Entry for November 22, 2006

Greetings from the Richard E. Byrd library in Springfield, VA, where I prepared termpapers as a child.  I found this photo of Robert Altman at Gerald Peary’s site featuring an  interview with Altman at the time of the release of Gosford Park.

Bob Balaban came to me two-and-a-half years ago and asked if there was something we could develop together. I said, ‘I’ve never done a who-done-it. People come to an English house for the weekend.’ Some who watch the movie say, ‘I knew from the beginning who did it. You didn’t hide it very well.’ I say,’If you figured it out, that’s OK. I wasn’t trying to make a mystery.’ We’re not going to sit around for 2 1/2 hours to discover the plot, I’m bored with plots. And I’m not interested that anyone pay for the crime. That’s not what I care about. Less than 50% of murderers in the world are caught. What purpose would it serve?

When John C. called last night, he let me know that filmmaker Robert Altman had died; I hadn’t heard because an accident near Staunton slowed traffic to 2 miles per hour (literally)  combined with other holiday slowdowns turned a four hour trip into one that lasted eight hours, not counting a half hour dinner break.

In today’s Washington Post I read of the scary treatment by DC police in staff writer Carol D. Leonnig’s Police Agree to Protester Reforms: Lawsuit Alleging Abuse During 2001 Inauguration Is Settled,”

The Partnership for Civil Justice, a civil liberties advocacy group, and a group of local residents brought the suit five years ago to try to force the police department under Chief Charles H. Ramsey to change what it considered an illegal pattern of treating protesters like suspected criminals.

Ironically, one person mistreated was Mike Shinn

a security consulting company owner who joined in the suit settled yesterday [who] said he was glad that the department would be forced to follow the laws of the country. Shinn, a Bush supporter who went to watch the inaugural celebration, said he felt he was in another country when police pushed him, other spectators and protesters against a wall and an officer hit him on the head from behind with a baton.

Shinn told Leonnig,

I tried to explain what I was doing and ask him what he wanted me to do, and he hit me againHe said, ‘Do you want some more of this?” I was just shocked, just utterly shocked. I thought: What in the world are they teaching them?

Given Bush’s reputation for making sure that crowds look hospitable, one wonders that Mr. Shinn supports him.  Shinn also told Leonnig:

You can’t arrest people for just having opinions, as unpopular as they may be,” he said. “You don’t just arrest everybody on the streets because you think they might have an opinion. It flies in the face of everything that is America.

I always thought the DC police were better with demonstrators than the police in other cities, but as of late, that must not be the case.  They’ve also been in other trouble.

In January 2005, the District government agreed to pay $425,000 to seven people caught up in a mass arrest at Pershing Park in September 2002. More than 400 people were rounded up at the downtown park during demonstrations against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Several investigations found that Assistant Chief Peter J. Newsham, after conferring with Ramsey, had ordered arrests without warning or evidence of a crime — including of people who had nothing to do with the protests.

And that’s not all, according to Leonnig:

In January 2004, the city agreed to pay $7,000 to $10,000 to each of three Corcoran College of Art students who sued. The students had said that they were photographing the Pershing Park protests and were encouraged by police to enter the park and then arrested in the roundup.

*

Leonnig also has a November 4 story of interest written in conjunction with Eric Rich, U.S. Seeks Silence on CIA Prisons: Court Is Asked to Bar Detainees From Talking About Interrogations.” According to an October 26 filing to U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton, the Bush administration says that .

 terrorism suspects held in secret CIA prisons should not be allowed to reveal details of the “alternative interrogation methods” that their captors used to get them to talk.

Since those interrogation methods are now among the most sensitive national security secrets, their release even to the detainees’ own attorneys, could according to the brief

reasonably be expected to cause extremely grave damage.

 

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