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Look! It's Lindsay Lohan - Hot! Ready! Legal!
And If that doesn't have America's youngsters shoving their hands into their pants pockets and whipping out their wallets then how about the 2004 Hot List: Hip Hop, Sex, Metal, Politics, Rock, Models, Blogs, and Intoxicants!
What more could you want? Record reviews? Got 'em. Movies? Those too. Traffic cancelled their tour, and Van Halen is this week's top artist at the Real Player music store.
No doubt about it - Rolling Stone is every bit as hip and 'now' and cutting edge today as it was in 1977.
And the hard-edge gritty news is there too, Duke, so don't fret. See the little box nestled in Ms Lohan's Hot! ready! Legal! hair? Abu Ghraib - not quite the gonzo approach you'd have taken to the story perhaps, but hey, times change.
In the classified files, some of the photographed soldiers also provide firsthand accounts of the abuses. Pvt. Lynndie England testified that on November 8th -- the evening of her twenty-first birthday -- she went to the Hard Site to visit Spc. Graner, her boyfriend. Just after midnight, seven Iraqi detainees accused of taking part in a fight at one of the many tent compounds used to house prisoners at Abu Ghraib were brought to Tier 1A. For England, the evening was a break from the tedium of her job processing prisoners. For Nori Al-Yasseri, detainee number 7787, it quickly became a "night which we felt like 1,000 nights."
Osha Gray Davidson is no Hunter S. Thompson, certainly no Seymour Hersh; there's nothing really new here and even those details twisted into new shapes aren't really that shocking any more. Perverse, disturbing, disappointing - at least - but the shock is gone. A young woman chooses to spend her 21st birthday brutalizing prisoners? C'mon, Seymour would've alluded to a "Happy Birthday" phone call from Rummy himself, prompting her to trot off to a date with detainee number 7787 and his buds (following a quick reminder not to forget the camera).
But the media-spun version of The Story is fracturing, as details emerge in England's Article 32 hearing this week at Ft Bragg, North Carolina.
"She wasn't even trained as a guard" - an aspect of the story that was made clear when the story line was systemic failure of the institution of the Army. (A part of the Failure to Plan series that forms the foundation of John Kerry's current explanation for voting against funding for equiping the troops.) But she wasn't trained as a guard for a good reason - she wasn't a guard. She was an admin troop out for a good time.
"Just following orders"? She was likely violating orders.
From the Fayetteville Observer's coverage: Chief Warrant Officer Paul Arthur, an investigating officer, testified that England told him the motive for the incidents was to have fun. He described her as calm and cooperative during the investigation. "She was a little nervous, but not enough to cause me any concern." He says she did not think the incidents were very serious.
But here's how the NY Times reported the day's hearings:
An Army investigator, Paul D. Arthur, testified at the hearing today that he believed the reservists from the 372nd Military Police Company, based in Cresaptown, Md., were responding to the stress of being in a war zone.
"It was just for fun, kind of venting their frustration," Mr. Arthur said.
Reads a little different?
Of course, the 'fun' angle would explain why she didn't contact her commanding General:
The general who headed the U.S. military prison at Abu Ghraib said in an interview broadcast Tuesday that there had been a conspiracy to prevent her knowing about prisoner abuse there.
``I have been told there's a reliable witness who's made a statement ... indicating that not only was I not included in any of the meetings discussing interrogation operations, but specific measures were taken to ensure I would not have access to those facilities, that information or any of the details of interrogations at Abu Ghraib or anywhere else,'' Karpinski said. She didn't identify the witness.
Asked whether she believed there had been a conspiracy at senior level to stop her knowing what was going on, Karpinski said: ``Correct.''
``From what I understand ... it was people that had full knowledge of what was going on out at Abu Ghraib who knew that they had to keep Janis Karpinski from discovering any of those activities,'' she added.
Asked whether she thought the conspiracy reached up to the Pentagon or the White House, she said: ``The indication is that it may have.''
The General, by the way, is also one of those folks described as untrained and unprepared in numerous articles explaining this case. A business consultant in civilian life, many reports have noted that she had no experience at running prisons.
If so, then in addition to leadership and command, what was her Army background?
General Karpinski, the only female commander in the war zone, was an experienced operations and intelligence officer who had served with the Special Forces and in the 1991 Gulf War, but she had never run a prison system. Now she was in charge of three large jails, eight battalions, and thirty-four hundred Army reservists, most of whom, like her, had no training in handling prisoners.
And some say that's an oxymoron! (Never did think that was funny...)