December 19th, 2008

Chris Keeley

andrew hood

HIS daughter came second - Thailand's death penalty was a distant third.</strong></p>

Andrew Hoods' first thought was the $500,000 pay-day 3kg of heroin would earn in the streets of Kings Cross.

Only now, languishing in a Bangkok prison where he faces the possibility of a firing squad, has Hoods realised what he left behind in Annandale, where he would have said a last goodbye to his daughter.

What drove a man to leave behind his nine-year-old girl and risk a death penalty for a few kilograms of heroin?

It's a story of drugs, divorce, rehab and a little girl. She's the only thing he truly has left to hold, a memory captured in a picture in his wallet.

In the past few weeks Hoods still fought to kick a heroin addiction, friends from Narcotics Anonymous say.

"I was in rehab with (him) and I know Andy has been struggling not using heroin any more," an NA friend said.

But far from being the candle of hope in Hoods' storm of addiction, Narcotics Anonymous appears to be where the ill-fated plan developed that led him to strap 12 packets of heroin to his chest.

He was a drug mule. He stopped using, or was trying to, but couldn't break the cycle with the NA crowd and tried to smuggle the powder through Suvarnabhumi airport on Wednesday.

"A lot of people in NA send mules over to Thailand," Hoods' friend said. "A lot of people that get off it (drugs) don't use any more but they still sell. They get caught in the trap of the easy dollar from when they were using."

It's not what NA had in mind when it opened the upstairs back room of the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre in King St for addicts to meet for support.

Hoods, from Blacktown, turned to NA after years of drug abuse that led to a divorce and unemployment. Friends last saw him near Broadway about 5am or 6am, two weeks ago.

The next time they saw him he was surrounded by Thai customs officials. His victorious captors wheeled him out, surrounded by the drugs for the cameras.

"I've got my daughter here with me," he said, clutching her photo. "And that's all I've got, man, that's all I've got.",22049,24826592-5001021,00.html
Chris Keeley


TO: Distinguished Recipients
FM: John Whitbeck
Transmitted below is quite a strong NEW YORK TIMES editorial, which has also been published by the INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE.
It appears that the unanimously adopted Senate Armed Services Committee report on the origins and features of the U.S. Defense Department's torture program and practices closely tracks the facts set forth in Jane Mayer's bestselling stomach-churner The Dark Side (which also documents the even uglier practices of the CIA) and identifies the same primary villains in terms of conception, implementation and sadistic perversion.
Based on Mayer's book alone, if, at the very least, the five people whose names are mentioned in the second paragraph of this editorial are not indicted, tried in an open court, convicted (not plea-bargained for wrist-slaps) and imprisoned for their crimes, the United States will have no credible right in the years to come to assert that it is either a country which respects the rule of law or one which stands for ethical and humane values.

International Herald Tribune


The Pentagon and the torture report


Friday, December 19, 2008


Most Americans have long known that the horrors of Abu Ghraib were not the work of a few low-ranking sociopaths. All but President George W. Bush's most unquestioning supporters recognized the chain of unprincipled decisions that led to the abuse, torture and death in prisons run by the American military and intelligence services.


Now, a bipartisan report by the Senate Armed Services Committee has made what amounts to a strong case for bringing criminal charges against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; his legal counsel, William Haynes; and potentially other top officials, including the former White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff.


The report shows how actions by these men "led directly" to what happened at Abu Ghraib, in Afghanistan, in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and in secret CIA prisons.


It said these top officials, charged with defending the Constitution and America's standing in the world, methodically introduced interrogation practices based on illegal tortures devised by Chinese agents during the Korean War. Until the Bush administration, their only use in the United States was to train soldiers to resist what might be done to them if they were captured by a lawless enemy.


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