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Tired of hearing Bush administration policies criticized with the backing of FBI reports? Apparently Montana Sen. Conrad Burns is.

On July 14, Burns and 32 other Republican senators voted for Senate Amendment 1223, which would have added language to the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Bill stripping access to classified information from any federal officeholder who “makes a statement based on an FBI agent’s comments which is used as propaganda by terrorist organizations.”

The move was designed to intimidate Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. During Senate debate, Durbin read aloud passages from FBI reports describing “detainee[s] chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water” and a litany of similar horrors.

Somehow, America’s enemies got the idea of using these reports of torture to call our bona fides as missionaries of liberty into question. Republicans cynically used that reaction to call Durbin’s loyalty into question.

Twenty of Burns’ Republican colleagues rejected the amendment, which would have made honest use of FBI findings—any findings out of line with presidential preferences, at least—a punishable offense. Sen. Burns was not one of them.

The best we can hope is that he was simply being a dutiful Republican by supporting the amendment, which ultimately failed. Then again, given Burns’ steadfastly compliant voting record, maybe he just fails to appreciate the virtues of dissent.


On the lighter side, the export of American culture took a strange twist recently when Ghouls Gone Wild, the movie debut from Missoula’s own International Playboys, premiered in Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 9. The film played for one night only at The Rocket Theater and was roughly translated into Farsi on the theater’s marquee as “Ghost Women Chase Away Musicians.”

Playboys frontman Colin Hickey explains that the film got its big international break after a friend of the band serving in Afghanistan received a DVD copy and started watching it with his National Guard unit.

“They apparently loved it,” says Hickey. “It reminded them of home.”

Details of the screening—and local reactions—are still sketchy, but what is known is that when the Rocket opened its doors for an evening of American films, the soldiers had successfully added Ghouls to the list and supplied the DVD. The Rocket knew no better than to oblige and Kabul, no doubt, will never be the same.

“I hope it was well received,” says Ghouls director Ted Geoghegan, “even if the music is a little bit loud and probably different than what they’re used to over there.”

For those hoping to see the film locally, Ghouls is available to rent at most local video stores and for sale at Ear Candy, Rockin Rudy’s and Hastings.

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