SPIEGEL's Daily Take The Second Coming of Bush
The preparations for US President Bush's visit to Germany next week are in full force. From removing flower pots from the city center to welding shut manhole covers, nothing is being left to chance. And, new torture allegations are leveled against the US military in Afghanistan. Plus, a Sino sex bomb hits Berlin.
The Anatomy of a Presidential Visit
Germany doesn't want anything to happen to Bush on its watch.
The official line in Germany is, of course, that the country is pleased to be honored by a visit from the most powerful man in the world. US President George W. Bush's visit next week is, after all, a chance for Germany and the US to finally put the trans-Atlantic bickering behind them and to move on to more important issues like making sure that Iran doesn't get the atomic bomb and the North Koreans don't use theirs. For the city hosting Bush -- Mainz, a city of 200,000 residents located on the Rhine River in Western Germany -- however the visit is roughly akin to the imposition of martial law. Here, a list of some of the security precautions being taken by US security personnel and by the city of Mainz as it prepares to host Bush and his entourage of 1,000:
* Four major highways on the outskirts of the city will be closed in both directions from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and again from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
* Local hospitals have already been inspected by a dozen members of Bush's security detail. The university clinic has been declared off-limits to "normal patients" during Bush's visit (except for the emergency room) and is reserved for the president should something happen to him.
* All schools in Mainz and three schools in the nearby town of Wiesbaden will be closed on Wednesday of next week -- the day of Bush's visit -- because of disrupted transportation and because many of them are located in the closed-off center of Mainz.
* A number of Mainz businesses will remain closed and many others will operate with only a skeleton crew due to difficulties most employees will have getting to work.
* Manhole covers in the city center are being welded shut to eliminate hiding places for bombs. Other potential dangers, such as cars, mailboxes, flower pots and garbage cans are being removed.
The police in Mainz are informing citizens about where they can and can't be during Bush's visit.
* Residents in the city center are forbidden to go out onto their balconies during Bush's visit and some 1,200 Mainz residents who live near the palace where Bush and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder are to meet will only be allowed to enter their apartments after having undergone security checks. Strategically important balconies, roofs and windows will be manned by American snipers.
* Shipping on the Rhine will be halted during the brief boat trip on the river to be taken by Bush.
The President will be in Mainz for a grand total of 11 hours on his way from Brussels to Slovakia. (2:35 p.m. CET)
Yet More Torture Allegations
Once again, the subject of US torture of terror suspects is making headlines. New evidence now indicates that widespread Abu Ghraib-style torturing took place in US military prisons in Afghanistan. Prisoners languishing in prisons in both Bagram and in Kandahar were reportedly subjected to mock executions, baseball-bat beatings, sodomy and a variety of other tortures not terribly consistent with the "American Dream."
The allegations stem from 1,000 pages of material released by the army to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and made available to the British daily The Guardian. In addition to torture, the documents show that US soldiers got cold feet after the Abu Ghraib scandal and they apparently destroyed incriminating photographs from torture chambers in both Afghanistan and Iraq to avoid punishment.
What would the photos have shown? According to one Iraqi prisoner who was held in Tikrit in September 2003, American soldiers tied him up to a chair and dislocated both his arms. "(The soldier) asked me, 'Are you going to report me? You have no evidence,'" the Iraqi claimed in his statement. "Then he hit me very hard on my nose, and then he stepped on my nose until it broke and I started bleeding." Despite the fact that a US military doctor confirmed the Iraqi's claims, the investigation into his case was closed last October.
A separate case from Afghanistan involves a Palestinian living in Jordan who calims he was tortured in Bagram air force base in 2002. The man, Hussain Adbulkadr Youssouf Mustafa accuses US soldiers of forcing him to lie across a table while two soldiers pulled down his pants. "They forcibly rammed a stick up my rectum," he reports. "It was excruciatingly painful. ... Only when the pain became overwhelming did I think I would ever scream. But I could not stop screaming when this happened." (11:15 a.m. CET)
Berlin Film Fest's Sino Sex Bomb
At the Berlinale, this judge is getting as much press as the films. Is it any wonder why?