Chances are, when you look back on the past week several years from now, there won't be much you remember about the news that dominated your life. Something about how a presidential candidate had to distance himself from a preacher that took racy photographs of Miley Cyrus or something. But at the same time, if you are anything like a typical HuffPo reader or commenter, you won't forget having yearned for more substantive, important topics to have found their way into the news cycle.
That's something that comes through loud and clear in the emails and comments I receive while liveblogging the Sunday morning political shows. Many of the people who read the Sunday blog do so because they just can't stand to watch the parade of empty-headed yammerers but can't not stay engaged. There's a real longing for a news that more actively delves into topics that matter, offers penetrating analysis of problems, and mounts a real critique of political policy. People expect better from print news, better from cable news...better from HuffPo!
So this week, we're beginning a new end-of-the-week feature to rise to this demand, if only a little bit. Five Forgotten Stories will be a briefing on the sort of news story that we felt could have, and should have, gotten a wider play from the newshole. We invite all our readers to delve, discuss, and come back and make suggestions of your own.
1. Gitmo Prosecutor Turns Gitmo Critic
Air Force Colonel Morris Davis used to prosecute the detainees that the War On Terror brought to Guantanamo Bay. But now he's flipped the script and aimed his criticism directly at Gitmo itself, testifying under oath that "he felt undue pressure to hurry cases along so that the Bush administration could claim before political elections that the system was working" as a witness for the defense of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, "an alleged driver of Osama bin Laden."
Davis said he wants to wait until the cases -- and the military commissions system -- have a more solid legal footing. He also said that Defense Department general counsel William J. Haynes II, who announced his retirement in February, once bristled at the suggestion that some defendants could be acquitted, an outcome that Davis said would give the process added legitimacy.
"He said, 'We can't have acquittals,' " Davis said under questioning from Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brian Mizer, the military counsel who represents Hamdan. " 'We've been holding these guys for years. How can we explain acquittals? We have to have convictions.' "
Davis also decried as unethical a decision by top military officials to allow the use of evidence obtained by coercive interrogation techniques. He said Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Hartmann, the legal adviser to the top military official overseeing the commissions process, was improperly willing to use evidence derived from waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning.
2. Health Insurance Crisis Impacting Marriage Decisions
If there's two things the moralizers on the right love to do, it's deny Americans universal health care while enforcing their own definition of what a proper marriage should look like. But in a twist that's downright Freakonomical, the desperate times/desperate measures equation is forming an intersection with these two issues.
Some people marry for love, some for companionship, and others for status or money. Now comes another reason to get hitched: health insurance.
In a poll released today, 7% of Americans said they or someone in their household decided to marry in the last year so they could get healthcare benefits via their spouse.
"It's a small number but a powerful result, because it shows how paying for healthcare is reflected not only in family budgets but in life decisions," said Drew E. Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which commissioned the survey as part of its regular polling on healthcare.
3. NBC's Brian Williams Approves of Taxpayer Funded Pentagon Propaganda
Like we've been saying all week, it's disappointing how quick the impact from the New York Times' story on "message force multipliers" has faded from media consciousness. But what's even more disappointing is hearing the face of NBC Nightly News blithely blow the matter off. On his blog, Williams says:
I read the article with great interest. I've worked with two men since I've had this job -- both retired, heavily-decorated U.S. Army four-star Generals -- Wayne Downing and Barry McCaffrey. As I'm sure is obvious to even a casual viewer, I quickly entered into a close friendship with both men. I wish Wayne were alive today to respond to the article himself.
But the thing about conflicts of interest is that viewers have a right to know what associations commentators have regardless of what comes tumbling out of their mouths. What Williams seems to be saying is that there was no need for such disclosure in these two cases because, in his personal opinion, neither man was susceptible to being spun. Is that the standard at NBC News?
4. On Fifth Anniversary of 'Mission Accomplished' WaPo Editors Break Out the Whitewash
The Washington Post commemorated the anniversary of Bush's folly by busting out the editorial they ran five years ago, as a way of suggesting that the paper didn't get fooled and bamboozled by the Bush Administration. But as ThinkProgress admonishes: "It's wonderful that the WP didn't buy into Bush's PR stunt on May 1, 2003. But this self-congratulatory reprinting of its May 4 op-ed is disingenuous."
The paper started out hawkishly, echoing many of Bush's arguments and calling war "an operation essential to American security" even before Powell's presentation. The Post then quickly endorsed Powell's WMD and al Qaeda claims. ... Yet as invasion approached, the paper shifted its tone. In two lengthy editorials, it directly answered antiwar arguments and responded to readers who'd accused the paper of "jingoism." Following this public grappling with dissent, the Post unleashed a flurry of editorials smacking the Bush administration for "worryingly vague" postwar planning. ... The paper never changed its stance on war, however.
5. U.S. Military Contractor Has a History of Whoring
According to whistleblowers testifying before the Senate this week, the heroic, freedom-fostering military contractors from DynCorps are knee-deep in the prostitution biz. That's bad enough. What makes it worse, is that this isn't the first time DynCorps contractors have been caught whoring it up in a war zone.
Let's flash back to August of 2002, and meet the DynCorp whistleblowers of yesteryear:
"Two former employees of DynCorp, the government contracting powerhouse, have won legal victories after charging that the $2 billion-a-year firm fired them when they complained that co-workers were involved in a Bosnia sex-slave trade...
Because of a combination of international treaties, jurisdictional loopholes and bureaucratic confusion, employees of private military companies such as DynCorp can escape prosecution for crimes they commit overseas. Most common crimes committed outside the United States are beyond the jurisdiction of U.S. courts, and the burgeoning local law enforcement systems in war-torn regions such as Bosnia are often insufficient or unwilling to police U.S. contractors."
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