Asawin Suebsaeng

Asawin Suebsaeng

Reporter

Asawin Suebsaeng is a reporter at the Washington, DC, bureau of Mother Jones. He has also written for The American Prospect, the Bangkok Post, and Shoecomics.com.

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A graduate of Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Penn., Asawin came back to DC with hopes of putting his flimsy Creative Writing major, student newspaper tenure, and interest in human rights and political chicanery to some use. He started cutting his teeth at F&M's student-run weekly, The College Reporter, serving as editor in chief. He has interned at The American Prospect, been a reporter for the Bangkok Post, and scribbled for ShoeComics.com. His favorite movie is either Apocalypse Now or Pirahna 3D, depending on the day or mood.

Report: These 54 Foreign Governments Helped the CIA Torture, Detain, and Transport Suspects After 9/11

| Tue Feb. 5, 2013 4:01 PM PST

On Tuesday, the Open Society Justice Initiative released a 212-page report that details international assistance to US covert action related to controversial Bush-era anti-terror policy. The report (PDF), titled "Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition," identifies 136 people who were captured or transferred by the Central Intelligence Agency, and lists available information about the detainees—both the Islamist operatives and the completely innocent.

"Globalizing Torture" also provides an annotated list of the dozens of foreign governments that played roles in the CIA's secret program in the years following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. These governments provided crucial support in facilitating the CIA and Bush administration's war on Al Qaeda by, according to the report:

[H]osting CIA prisons on their territories; detaining, interrogating, torturing, and abusing individuals; assisting in the capture and transport of detainees; permitting the use of domestic airspace and airports for secret flights transporting detainees; providing intelligence leading to the secret detention and extraordinary rendition of individuals; and interrogating individuals who were secretly being held in the custody of other governments. Foreign governments also failed to protect detainees from secret detention and extraordinary rendition on their territories and to conduct effective investigations into agencies and officials who participated in these operations.

Here are the 54 listed, in alphabetical order:

  • Afghanistan
  • Albania
  • Algeria
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Azerbaijan
  • Belgium
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Canada
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • The Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Djibouti
  • Egypt
  • Ethiopia
  • Finland
  • Gambia
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hong Kong
  • Iceland
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Jordan
  • Kenya
  • Libya
  • Lithuania
  • Macedonia
  • Malawi
  • Malaysia
  • Mauritania
  • Morocco
  • Pakistan
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sweden
  • Syria
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • Uzbekistan
  • Yemen
  • Zimbabwe

Check out the full report here.

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Obama's "Skeetgate," Explained

| Tue Feb. 5, 2013 9:44 AM PST

An official White House photo of the moment Obama decided to hatch a plan to fool the world with a story about habitual skeet shooting.

For the past week, you've probably heard a lot about President Obama and skeet shooting. Basically, what began as one offhanded remark in an interview with The New Republic has transmogrified into a billow of conspiracy theories, parody, and upsetting political discussion. Here is your guide to Skeetgate 2013:

Wait, what?

Good question.

This all started when Obama told The New Republic in an exclusive interview published online on Sunday, January 27 that he has "a profound respect for the traditions of hunting that trace back in this country for generations," and that:

[U]p at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time.

(In the wake of the Newtown school shooting, the president has been pushing initiatives and legislation aimed at reducing gun violence in America.)

This statement—a bold claim that Barack Obama has looked at, and has even touched, a firearm at any point in his liberal-left lifetime—kicked off a wave of strained credulity on the part of the American right.

What did the backlash look like?

At a press briefing on the day after TNR ran the story, White House press secretary Jay Carney responded to a question regarding why there aren't any publicly available photos of Obama skeet shooting at Camp David. (Carney addressed related skepticism yet again when he spoke with reporters aboard Air Force One exactly one week after.)

Unsurprisingly, Matt Drudge went ahead and did his thing:

"Warm Bodies": A Zombie Comedy With Lots of Romance and No Politics

| Fri Feb. 1, 2013 1:11 PM PST

Warm Bodies
Summit Entertainment
97 minutes

It's refreshing to see a zombie movie that isn't political in nature. Too often it seems as if every zombie (or zombie-ish) movie is a critique of consumer culture, or the War in Iraq, or widespread racism, or the federal government, or something else important.

Warm Bodies—based on this 2011 novel by Isaac Marion—is a zombie movie packed with synth-pop and classic rock that focuses on a forbidden love between a walking-dead male called "R" and a girl named Julie. (Get it???) The film takes place in a post-zombie-apocalypse America in which the humans hunker down in their fortress and the undead prowl the deserted cityscapes. "R" is a good-natured zombie who, as we learn through his voiceover narration, is always morally "conflicted" about his need to feed on human flesh and brains. After he meets Julie (during a bloodbath in an abandoned building during which "R" devours Julie's current boyfriend), they soon start a romance that sets off a chain reaction that alters the fate of the post-apocalyptic world forever.

"30 Rock": A Political History

| Thu Jan. 31, 2013 4:48 PM PST
Liz Lemon.

Thursday night, 30 Rock takes its curtain call.

After six years on the air, Tina Fey's beloved NBC comedy is ending its run with an hourlong series finale. The series, which is set behind the scenes at an Saturday Night Live-like sketch comedy show, earned a devoted fanbase with its cultural satire and rapid-fire wit. 30 Rock premiered on NBC in 2006, just as the network was launching Aaron Sorkin's highly anticipated drama Studio 60 on the Sunset Stripanother series revolving around a fictional sketch comedy program. Strangely enough, it was Sorkin's hugely political Studio 60 that tanked, while Fey's goofier series became the award-winning critical hit. (As a sidenote, it's worth remembering that when Tina Fey first pitched the show, her original idea was basically the same premise behind Sorkin's latest series, The Newsroom.)

No, the University of Chicago Isn't Tearing Down Reagan's Childhood Home to Make Way for an Obama Parking Lot

| Thu Jan. 31, 2013 10:59 AM PST

There's a new rumor going around that the University of Chicago wants to pave what's left of Reagan's paradise and put up a socialist parking lot.

On Wednesday, the UK tabloid the Daily Mail published a story claiming that the university had plans to demolish Ronald Reagan's childhood home in Chicago (832 E. 57th St.), to make room for a parking lot for a potential Barack Obama Presidential Library. It goes without saying that this would be flipping one gigantic bird to the American right.

It was at this apartment building that Reagan survived a severe bout of pneumonia. It's also where the future president was living when his older brother was run over by a horse-drawn beer wagon (the incident wasn't fatal, but left a long scar on his leg). In 2004, the University of Chicago bought the land encompassing the apartment building where the 40th President of the United States lived between the age of 3 and 4. Residents were ordered out in 2010. The Commission on Chicago Landmarks denied the structure "landmark status," which gave the university the greenlight to take a bulldoze to the vacant six-flat building to make way for planned campus expansion.

"Some have said that the liberal Chicago establishment does not want a reminder that Reagan, a conservative icon, once lived in the city," the thinly sourced Daily Mail report reads.

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