Morning Report: June 14, 2005

Barzani named head of Kurdish Iraq. Debka reports: 'Kurdish parliament unanimously appoints Masoud Barzani president of Kurdish autonomous region of Iraq. His ally and former rival Jalal Talabani was last month named president of Iraq.' (Debka)

Interrogation video shows nervous Saddam. Saddam Hussein, whose "indefatigability" won him the admiration of certain types of people in the West, "appeared to be a shadow of his former self" in a video recently released by Iraq's Special Tribunal, according to this AP report (via the Chicago Tribune): ' Unlike Hussein's last video appearance, when he was arraigned just over a year ago, the man on a tape released Monday by Iraq's Special Tribunal appeared to be a shadow of his former self. Gone was the bluster and aggressiveness. The new Hussein had bags under his eyes, often clasped his hands and squeezed his fingers. He constantly ran his hand through his beard, which had more gray in it than a year ago. When quizzed by chief trial Raid Juhi, a man about half Hussein's age, the former dictator smiled meekly.' (AP via Chicago Tribune)

State Department tracks anti-gay incidents abroad. The US Department of State is holding foreign human-rights violations against lesbians and gays to greater scrutiny, the Washington Blade reports: 'The 2004 State Department report on human rights, released four months ago, condemns the treatment of gays by certain foreign countries and tracks employment discrimination, arrests, murder, imprisonment and torture of gays around the globe. ... A State Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity said that the department took extra steps to ensure gay rights violations were included in the 2004 report by asking foreign posts to report on HIV/AIDS discrimination and discriminatory laws. The department also relies on information from Amnesty International and other groups. “We felt this was an area we weren’t dealing with sufficient intensity,” the official said.' The article also notes that some US gay rights groups claim that the policy is a "double standard". (Washington Blade)

Klansman to stand trial; Senate regrets inaction on domestic terrorism. Accused in the infamous 1964 slayings of pro-democracy activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner in Mississippi, Edgar Ray Killen is now on trial for his role in the murders. Jury selection in the case has begun. An AP article in the Washington Post reports: 'The slayings of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner _ three young men who were helping register blacks during the "Freedom Summer" of 1964 and were investigating a church burning the night they disappeared _ galvanized the civil rights movement and helped win passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. ... Killen's name has been associated with the slayings from the beginning. FBI records and witnesses indicated he organized the carloads of Klansmen who followed Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner and stopped them in their station wagon. Chaney, a black man from Mississippi, and Schwerner and Goodman, white men from New York, were beaten and shot to death. Their bodies were found 44 days later, buried in an earthen dam. Killen was tried along with several others in 1967 on federal charges of violating the victims' civil rights. The all-white jury deadlocked in Killen's case, but seven others were convicted. None served more than six years. Killen is the only person ever indicted on state murder charges in the case.' The article also notes that "about a quarter of the jury pool on Monday was black, roughly reflecting the racial makeup of the county's 28,700 residents. In 1964, very few blacks were registered to vote in Neshoba County, and juries were usually all-white." Meanwhile, news sources report that the United States Senate has formally apologized for its failure to act against lynching, a form of domestic terrorism that claimed some 4,700 American lives between 1880 and 1960. Most of the victims were African Americans. The resolution, sponsored by Sen. George Allen, R-Va and Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., passed without objection. A Washington Post editorial remarks, 'It is tempting to say that the Senate's expression of regret comes too late. It is never too late or too untimely, however, for a great nation to remember terrible wrongs, and lynching was a crime of national proportion. Senate Resolution 39 notes that incidents of lynching were recorded in all but four states, thus having it succeed slavery as "the ultimate expression of racism in the United States following Reconstruction." ' UPDATE: LaShawn Barber isn't impressed. (AP, Knight Ridder via AZ Central, Washintgon Post, LaShawn Barber)

Belmont Club: Deep strike. In a Monday post at The Belmont Club, Wretchard reflects on the state of the Iraqi insurgency today, and considers the question of 'whether it is enough to merely stay the current strategic course, trusting that current trends will eventually break the enemy, or find new methods which will accelerate victory.' In World War II, "accelerating victory" meant destroying the enemy's infrastructure, often by ruthless means. Today, more congenial methods are available: ''Democratization' is fundamentally an attempt to destroy the fabric on which the terrorist war-making potential rests. It is the American weapon of choice in lieu of the Atomic Bomb.' But as Michael Ledeen observes, "more time has passed since 9/11 than transpired between Pearl Harbor and the surrender of the Japanese empire," and a resolution is needed sooner rather than later. (In Ledeen's famous phrase: "Faster, please".) And by the same token, the enemy - and its sympathizers in the West - possess a "deep strike" weapon of their own: 'the conviction that that no series of foreign military victories can offset a determined depiction of defeat at home.' In short, the current conflict is nothing more nor less than a battle of wills. (Belmont Club)