The Range

Faulty Intelligence

Remember the U.S. military's twisted Abu Ghraib snuff/porn production? Two reports released last week stated that the abuses came as the result of poorly trained troops operating in a chaotic environment with lousy oversight from commanding officers.

One report specifically cited a team from Southern Arizona's Fort Huachuca that arrived in Iraq last October to provide instruction on interrogation techniques. A Huachuca sergeant identified as "Walters" suggested to a private contractor that snarling dogs and candid photos might help loosen the tongues of detainees. "This conversation certainly contributed to the abusive environment at Abu Ghraib," according to the report. Major Gen. Barbara Fast, who has been named the next commander of Fort Huachuca but has yet to assume command, was criticized in one report for failing to set strong standards to prevent abuse of prisoners.

Congressman Jim Kolbe said it was premature to put Fast in charge of Fort Huachuca.

"Recent investigation of the mistreatment of Iraqis held at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad suggest serious lapses of command authority," Kolbe said. "Until we know the full extend of culpability of all who may have been involved, it would be inappropriate for any commander under investigation to assume new command responsibilities." Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who was in Phoenix not for a campaign stop but merely to meet with business leaders, insisted on a radio show and later in front of reporters that he'd seen no evidence that the abuse was in any way linked to interrogation sessions, according to The New York Times. "I have not seen anything thus far that says the people abused were abused in the process of interrogating them or for interrogation purposes," Rumsfeld said.

As Times reporter Eric Schmitt noted, the first paragraph of one report notes, "We do know that some of the of the egregious abuses at Abu Ghraib which were not photographed did occur during interrogation sessions and that abuses during interrogation sessions occurred elsewhere."

After being passed a note at a press conference, Rumsfeld acknowledged that it could have happened in two or three cases, even though one report says it was a factor in 13 of 44 cases.

A Pentagon spokesman later said Rumsfeld had corrected himself and downplayed his earlier comments: "That The New York Times would find the secretary's misstatement and the subsequent effort to set the record straight is of interest is a shameless example of news that is sought during the dog days of August in Washington."

Test Run

Critics of the AIMS test, which all Arizona high school students must pass to graduate beginning in the spring of 2006, have long warned that educators will concentrate on simply teaching to the test rather than providing a more-rounded education. Well, here's the good news: Judging from the latest round of AIMS test scores, very few instructors appear to be teaching to the test.

Statewide, 58 percent of the current juniors who must pass the test to earn a diploma failed the math portion as sophomores; 39 percent failed the reading portion; and 36 percent failed the writing portion. In the Tucson Unified School District, 63 percent of the sophomores failed math, while in the Amphi School District, 52 percent failed math.

Last year's graduating class was lucky that the AIMS deadline was pushed back, because 86 percent of Amphi's seniors and 83 percent of the TUSD seniors failed the math portion of the test.

Meanwhile, the Arizona Capitol Times reported that the state Department of Education is short $1.3 million needed to handle an ongoing revision of the AIMS test.

Poll Positions

The latest KAET-TV poll shows that President George Bush has reclaimed the lead from Democrat John Kerry in Arizona's presidential sweepstakes. The survey of 400 registered voters showed that 47 percent were supporting Bush; 39 percent were supporting Kerry, and 14 percent were undecided.

A July poll by the Maricopa County PBS affiliate showed that 42 percent of respondents were supporting Kerry and 41 percent were supporting Bush. In a June poll, Bush was leading Kerry 47 to 35 percent. In May, Bush was up 48 percent to 41 percent.

One of these polls is not like the others!

KAET pollster and ASU poli-sci professor Bruce Merrill noted that among likely voters, the race was tighter, with 45 percent supporting Bush, 42 percent supporting Kerry and 13 percent undecided.

The poll also showed that Prop 200, the Protect Arizona Now Initiative, had the support of 64 percent of respondents, while 22 percent oppose it.

Just Another Example of Perfectly Good American Meth-Making Jobs Being Outsourced

U.S. Customs officials seized a 2004 Porsche Cayenne at the Nogales port of entry after discovering 72 pounds of methamphetamine, worth an estimated $2.16 million, in a secret compartment.

Customs officials arrested the driver of the car, Pablo Carrillo-Cardenas, 32, of Sacramento, Calif., who is expected to face charges of importing a controlled substance and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, according to Customs spokesperson Roger Maier.