Friday, May 22, 2009

Cheney vs. Obama

[Mitt Romney]

Two speeches, two very different men. Former Vice President Cheney seeks no political future. He speaks from the vantage of one who witnessed the killing of our fellow citizens, who deliberated and defined the strategy that would successfully prevent further murders of our fellow Americans.

His address today was direct, well-reasoned, and convincing.

President Obama, on the other hand, continues to speak as a politician. Contrary to the advice I and others gave him, he has placed two of his top political consultants in the West Wing, looking to them to opine on matters of national security. Barack Obama is having a hard time going from politician to president. His speech and his policies have one foot in campaign mode and another in presidential mode. He struggles to explain how he is keeping faith with the liberal advocates who promoted his campaign but in doing so, he breaks faith with the interests of the American people. When it comes to protecting the nation, we have a conflicted president. And his address today was more tortured than the enhanced interrogation techniques he decries.

It is laughable to suggest that Guantanamo is a meaningful aid in terrorist recruiting. Before Guantanamo came the first bombing of the World Trade Center, the bombing at Riyadh, the attacks on Khobar, the bombing of our embassies, the Cole. There will always be rallying cries for recruitment whether it is the existence of Israel or the freedoms enjoyed by Americans. Appeasement has not ever, does not now, and will never satisfy a foe who looks to destroy freedom and rule the world.

Vice President Cheney has been the target of every media, from mainstream to comic. But he spoke today as before without regard to the politics but with abiding respect for the truth. Barack Obama is still hanging on to the campaign trail. He said that the last thing he thinks about when he goes to sleep at night is keeping America safe. That's a big difference with Vice President Cheney—when it came to protecting Americans, he never went to sleep.

France slams Netanyahu's Jerusalem 'forever' vow

France accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday of prejudicing the outcome of the Middle East peace process by declaring that Jerusalem would forever be Israel's undivided capital.

"The declaration made by the Israeli prime minister yesterday in Jerusalem prejudices the final status agreement," foreign ministry spokesman Frederic Desagneaux told reporters in Paris.

The international community does not recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital and the city's status is a stumbling block in negotiations with Palestinians, who want east Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state.

Desagneaux said the internationally-sponsored "Middle East road map" to peace called on both parties to negotiate an agreement on Jerusalem.

On Thursday, at a ceremony marking Israel's occupation of east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War, Netanyahu said: "Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. It has always been, will remain so forever and will never be divided."

Reacting to the speech, the French spokesman took the opportunity to restate Paris' position on the future status of Jerusalem and to criticise Israel for allowing Jewish settlers to build on disputed land.

"In France's eyes, Jerusalem should, within the framework of a negotiated peace deal, become the capital of two states," he said, adding that President Nicolas Sarkozy had told Israeli lawmakers this in a speech last year.

"Actions such as the destruction of Palestinian homes or the transformation of Arab districts risk provoking an escalation in violence. They are unacceptable and contrary to international law," Desagneaux said.

"In broad terms, France condemns the ongoing settlement, including in East Jerusalem. We reiterate the need for a freeze on colonisation activities, including those linked to natural population growth," he added.

The previous Israeli government said it might agree to give up sovereignty on some Arab neighbourhoods in east Jerusalem, but Netanyahu has ruled this out and has refused to endorse the creation of a Palestinian state.

US soldier gets life for Iraq rape

Prosecutors wanted the death penalty for Steven Green whom they said was trigger-happy [AFP]

A former US soldier convicted of raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and killing her and her family, has been jailed for life, after a jury failed to agree on a death sentence.

Steven Dale Green, 24, was convicted two weeks ago of the crimes near Baghdad, where he and his unit were serving in 2006.

The jury of nine women and three men could not decide after two days of deliberations if Green should be executed or given life without parole, so the life sentence prevailed.

Judge Thomas Russell of the Kentucky district court said on Thursday that he would formally sentence Green on September 4.

Prosecutors said Green was the ringleader of a group of five soldiers who plotted to invade the home of the family of four to rape the girl.

They said he later bragged about the crime, saying what he had done was "awesome".


Green, 19 at the time of the crime, was described as the trigger-man in the group who donned black "ninja" outfits and raped Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi and shot her, her father, mother and six-year-old sister.

"I do think it will allow him to have some semblance of a life and I'm very grateful for that"

Doug Green, brother of convicted soldier

The soldiers later set fire to the girl's body to try to cover up the crime.

The rape-murders took place after the soldiers drank whiskey, played cards, and plotted the attack in Mahmudiya, 30km south of the Iraqi capital, the court heard.

Three of the four other soldiers pleaded guilty in the attack and the fourth was convicted, all in military courts martial.

They were sentenced to between five and 100 years, but could be paroled much sooner.

Green was tried in federal court as a civilian on murder, rape and obstruction of justice charges because his arrest came after he was discharged from the army for a "personality disorder".

The defence team acknowledged that he took part in the killings but argued that he should be spared the death penalty.


During the trial Green was depicted as a victim of a bad childhood and combat stress after the death of close colleagues in the combat zone south of Baghdad.

"Steven Green was responsible [for the rape and murders] but the United States of America failed Steven Green," Scott Wendelsdorf, a defence lawyer, told the jury in his final submission.

"And it failed a lot of soldiers in Iraq. And that wouldn't amount to a hill of beans if it were not the United States of America now seeking to put Steven Green to death."

As representatives of the Iraqi family openly wept in court, Green smiled slightly when the jury gave its decision.

His father, John Green, said the result was "the better of two bad choices, but the better one by far".

The ex-soldier's brother, Doug, added that "it's the only appropriate verdict" given the choices.

"I have mixed emotions about it, but I do think it will allow him to have some semblance of a life and I'm very grateful for that.

Mass. face transplant patient wants 'normal life'

The Associated Press

BOSTON, Mass. -- The Massachusetts man who received the second face transplant in the United States is speaking out.

James Maki told The Boston Globe that he asked for a mirror four days after the operation and stared in wonder at his reflection. He told the doctor who performed the April 9 operation, Bohdan Pomahac, that he couldn't believe he looked so much like he used to.

Maki is still at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston recovering. A news conference is scheduled for Thursday.

The 59-year-old Maki's face was disfigured in June 2005 when he fell onto the electrified third rail at a Boston subway station.

He says for years, people would recoil when they saw him.

He never wavered from the operation, even when told of the risks, because he wanted a normal life.

Movies: Night at the Museum, Terminator Salvation

With Memorial Day Weekend upon us, many may feel like kicking back with a movie. Film critic Ed Symkus shares his thoughts on the movies coming out this weekend.

Night at the Museum 2 If you didn't see the first film, this one would not make all that much sense. It's filled with dialogue, but there is not much to talk about. Some of it is funny, and some of it falls flat. Young kids will be the only ones that truly appreciate this film.

Terminator Salvation A solid science-fiction film that fits into the spectrum of the other Terminator films. It ties some of the loose ends together. A lot of action. Christian Bale plays a one-note performance.

Brothers Bloom A quirky, elegant movie about con men. It's about young brothers who grow up to make a living out of conning people. A romantic, crime comedy is the best description. Good soundtrack.

Lakers/Nuggets Game 2 Recap

Denver takes home court advantage with a win in L.A.

by John Krolik


Not a whole lot of players talking, but the Nuggets’ locker room is noticeable for the tags above the players’ lockers- “Rookie #13,” “Tay #30,” “JR Swish #1,” “Suite 200 #43″ (Easily the most enigmatic locker tag; later we learn that this is the name of a Denver nightclub, which Kleiza frequents.) “Infamous #45,” “Birdmann #11.” Definitely reinforces the “Why not us?” feeling of this Nuggets team.

In the media room, while making rounds and grabbing dinner, Shane McMahon and John Cena randomly show up, with Cena in a Kobe Bryant jersey. This is just plain fascinating to me for a number of reasons:

-I did, in fact, love professional wrestling as a kid and continue to have a passing fascination with it now. -Any time the WWE just shows up randomly at a legitimate sporting event IN THE MEDIA ROOM and try to make themselves into a story, it’s interesting to me.

-I remember Shane McMahon as the brat kid of the WWE who would get fed as a heel to bigger wrestlers and occasionally perform ridiculous stunts. Say what you will about being born into money, most heirs never have to jump off of a jumbotron. Now he’s a 39-year old man in the media room.

-I deal with NBA players on a fairly regular basis. They are absolutely gigantic. John Cena is different. He looks like a cartoon character. There’s no other way to put it. He’s just a completely different sort of human being.

-Eventually, with a “well, why not?” sort of energy, I decide to go up and ask John Cena some questions. I ask him about wearing a Laker jersey despite his Boston roots. (It’s embarrassing that I know this. Of this I am aware.) He responds that while he is from Boston and a big Celtics fan, the recent situation means you have to recognize the hospitality of the Staples Center and the city of Los Angeles. This is now three jersey’s he’s worn courtside this playoffs, Celtics, Magic, and Lakers. If I didn’t know better, I’d say he might be altering his actual opinions and feelings in order to better serve what the WWE wants.

Completely flustered, the best question I can come up with is which player from this series he’d be most afraid of in the ring. He says that while Gasol is a big guy, he has to go with Dwight Howard overall, he’s so big and an extremely imposing presence. Shane McMahon then comes over and tells me he saw me staring them down when they walked into the room. Getting caught staring by professional wrestlers in a media room is about as awkward of a social situation as I can imagine.

I am extremely disappointed in retrospect that this is the best I was able to do. In my defense, John Cena’s arms are literally the size of my head. Questions I should have asked: “Which player from this series would make the best heel?” (I’d be interested to see it between K-Mart and Vujacic. Although Kobe could definitely have a Chris Jericho-like career in his turns.) “A lot of fans believe the NBA is fixed by referees and the league. How would you respond to the rarer assertions that wrestling matches are affected by outside factors?”

In warmups, Kobe’s running simulated post-ups with Ariza. I think he knows he’s getting smaller guys on him in this game.


Dhantay “please stop saying I have any sort of prayer of guarding Kobe” Jones pick up 4 fouls in 6 minutes. That’s impressive.

LA has definitely come out hotter, but Denver is getting layups inside on the other end-10 points in the first 9 minutes from K-Mart is keeping them in the game.

23-16 LAL- Lakers have 3 offensive boards to 4 Denver defensive boards. That’s just not going to fly.

6:08 2nd quarter- 43-35 Lakers, LA wants to pull away, Denver looks dead and uninterested, but Carmelo is keeping Denver in it by hitting 4 straight jumpers. He seems to be the only person in the building who knows that LA is well on their way to putting themselves 2 games up in the conference finals-Denver is uninterested, LA is executing with little passion, and the building is…vaguely interested.

And Andrew Bynum catches Nene sleeping and gets a dunk on a Fisher 50-foot pass before the defense sets itself after an out-of-bounds play. Pathetic effort by Denver. 51-38 LAL.

And then, a run. As much as everyone would like to say this was LA checking out, sometimes a run is just a run, especially by a team as good as Denver. Kobe misses two fairly makeable shots. Good interior passing gets K-Mart a dunk. Denver hits two threes in rapid succession. Lamar makes a beautiful move and misses the layup. (This is also known as “pulling a Lamar.”) Chauncey and Lineas draw fouls and Shannon Brown gets enticed into taking a floater.

Then, with Denver down three and inbounding under LA’s basket, Chauncey Billups pulls the off-the-back play on Kobe to get the Layup, and Denver enters the locker room only down one. Your luck can change just that fast in the NBA. (Full disclosure-I was sitting next to Tom Friend, who wrote an outstanding piece on Chauncey that at one point vividly describes an off-the-back play he made in high school. It’s safe to say that nobody found this play cooler than Tom Friend. Fuller disclosure-Tom was getting a pretzel when the play happened in the game.)

Overheard walking the concourse during the half- “When did the whole team become Lamar Odom?” Lamar is absolutely my favorite Laker to watch and the best human being I’ve had the pleasure to meet in a locker room, but that was funny. If the Lakers lose this series, they might succumb to the pressure and let Odom walk. If that happens, championship runs over. Period.

Denver still hasn’t had a lead in this game, but ‘Melo hits a jumper to tie the score at 56. You could hear a pin drop in Staples.

Denver keeps getting it back to ties, but can’t seem to get a lead-then Trevor Ariza goes on a run. For reference, Trevor Ariza is an average three-point shooter and a great athlete. And you’re not going to believe this, but when he started driving to the basket past the rotating defender instead of settling for threes, really good things started happening. Massive slam, two free throws, and And-1. That’s 7 straight points for Trevor Ariza.

Denver could’ve let the game escape here, but they countered with the Birdman-Anderson changed Fisher’s layup and Denver got an ensuing fast-break layup for Kleiza, made a layup off a beautiful curl, and got a block on Fisher that led to a fast-break three for Chauncey. 7 straight points created by the birdman on one end of the floor or another.

Kobe responds with a dunk. The crowd’s awake now. Very much so.

Carmelo and Chauncey work the Nuggets back to a tie with free throws, and Kleiza, who has been massive, hits a three to finally get the Nuggets the lead with 11 minutes to go. Whoa boy.

With the Nuggets up 7 and threatening to pull away, Kobe and Shannon Brown get threes to cut it to one-the dreaded 6-point mini-run the Lakers were on the wrong side of in the 2nd quarter. Huge shots from the most and least likely candidates headed into the playoffs.

From this point, it more or less became a free-throw shooting contest, but a few notable plays:

After a massive Carmelo offensive board and layup to put the Nuggets up three, Kobe responds with a massive pull-up three over J.R. Smith. He’s good. Not sure if you’ve heard. Although I am protesting absolutely everything about that Vitamin Water campaign.

Chauncey draws contact and hits the free throws, Fisher misses a three, and J.R. “Nothing good ever, ever, happens when I put the ball on the floor, and why am I playing instead of Kleiza?” Smith puts the ball on the floor and flings the ball to Trevor Ariza. Kobe comes down, gets to his free-throw line extended happy spot, and drains the pull-up. Tie game. I find Gatorade delicious and hydrating, and the best way to get vitamins is Orange Juice.

I’m still not sure what happened on the next Denver possession. Chauncey drove the lane, went into a malestrom, didn’t get a whistle, flung the ball around his head or something to Nene, who was somehow at the top of the key, who somehow passed straight down to K-Mart, who corralled in some type of layup. Absolute chaos that ended with the ball in the basket.

Next LA possession-Kobe’s working a screen, Nene picks his pocket, loose-ball, Chauncey, Nene, and Gasol all dive on it, jump-ball gets called between Gasol and Billups, Gasol tips it, Ariza grabs it, something happens, ball squirts out, ball gets to Chauncey, 4-point game. Ridiculous. And jump-ball calls deciding two straight games! How about that?

Gasol hits two quick freebies, Chauncey SPLITS A PAIR, and Fisher, not Kobe, gets the final look at the three, but Nene makes a brilliant pop from Gasol (great defensive play #2 down the stretch from him), and contests the three. It has no chance. Game over. Wow. Nothing in the final minute remotely resembled a basketball play.

So, after three conference final games, the team with the first run loses, it comes down to the final possessions, and the best player on the floor loses. Amazing.


Kobe sums it up pretty nicely: a bounce of the ball here, a bounce of the ball there, and we could be up 2-0, or they could have won game 1.

On the last play: I always want the ball, I want the ball every play. (With humility, no apparent anger.)

Carmelo on if he was trying to galvanize his team in the 2nd quarter: “Yeah, I think coming down at the beginning of the game, we was trying to hard. We wasn’t even playing the way we know how to play. We haven’t played like that the whole playoffs. George took me out in that first quarter and gave me a chance to sit back and see what was going on out there and compose myself. And coming back into the game in the second quarter, I just wanted to take advantage, just try to get some momentum going, I started making some shots. And that big run we made in the second quarter, you know, it was crucial in our winning.”

So after two games, you’ve had two close finishes that went both ways, no clear better team after two games, the team winning at the beginning ultimately losing to late runs, and referee decisions that people are going to question. Wherever he was sitting, Shane McMahon must’ve been thinking he couldn’t have scripted it better himself if he tried.

Apple Could Find Healthy Market For $700 Touch-Screen Tablet

Analysts say consumers are willing to pay more for a device that's easier to use and more functional than today's netbooks.

Apple is building a touch-screen tablet as imagined by a recent analyst report, then the computer maker could find a strong market among consumers willing to pay more for a device that's easier to use and more functional than today's netbooks.
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster believes Apple is working on a device that would have a 7- to 10-inch touch screen and sell for $500 to $700, Apple Insider reported Thursday. The gadget would fill the gap between Apple's $400 iPod Touch and $1,000 MacBook.

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CEO Russel Stern extolls the virtues of his 10 Gbps products including a switch and some NICs Evidence pointing to such a device is coming from Piper Jaffray component contacts in Asia, as well as from recent Apple patents related to multitouch technology, comments to financial analysts in April by chief operating officer Tim Cook, Apple's acquisition of chip designer P.A. Semi, and recent chip-related hires, Munster said. "It is increasingly clear that Apple is investing more in its mobile computing franchise."

If Apple is working on such a device, then it could find a solid market. Despite their cramped keyboards and frustratingly tiny touch pads, netbooks have become the hottest-selling segment of the computer market, accounting for nearly a fifth of all laptops shipped in the first quarter of this year, according to DisplaySearch. While shipments of more traditional laptops and desktops have fallen in the economic recession, netbooks have experienced double-digit growth.

Part of the appeal, particularly for cash-strapped consumers, has been price. Netbooks typically sell for as little as $300, with most priced at less than $500. But price is only part of the story behind the popularity. The skyrocketing growth indicates that many people are buying because of the convenience of having an Internet-enabled computer that can fit into a pocketbook.

People who aren't just looking for a cheap laptop, and are willing to pay more for innovation, are a prime target for a design-focused company like Apple.

"People who aren't having money problems may want to pay more for something that they perceive as better constructed," Ezra Gottheil, an analyst for Technology Business Research, told InformationWeek. "This is particularly true for people buying netbooks for a second or third computer."

Gottheil, who also believes Apple is working on a touch-screen tablet, said the one item Apple would need is support for a full-size keyboard. The keyboard would not have to be attached to the device, but could be used through a Bluetooth wireless connection.

Without a keyboard, Apple would only have a niche device that would appeal to a much smaller market. "There's just too many situations where a keyboard is necessary," Gottheil said.

Munster believes Apple will introduce a tablet in the first half of next year. Gottheil said it could come even sooner.

Given the current projections for netbook sales, getting a device out sooner than later would seem advantageous. As the economy improves, growth in netbook shipments is expected to slow year over year from more than 68% this year to less than 40% next year, eventually falling to slightly more than 13% by 2013, acccording to iSuppli.

Once price become less of a factor, then the market for a more innovative, albeit pricier, device is likely to grow.

Md. alderman charged with groping midshipman

— An Annapolis alderman who was charged with a sexual crime and assault on a 21-year-old Naval Academy midshipman denied the allegations Wednesday and said he would fight them in court.

Police charging documents said Alderman Samuel Shropshire touched a male midshipman's crotch last week in a car. Shropshire, a 61-year-old Democratic candidate for Annapolis mayor, was charged Tuesday with second-degree assault and a fourth-degree sex offense, police said.

The accusation "is untrue, it's unfounded and it's unfair," Shropshire said while reading a statement at a news conference in Annapolis. "I did not take part in the actions I am accused of, and I know I will be found innocent of the accusation."

Shropshire, elected city council alderman in 2005, had sponsored the midshipman under a Naval Academy program designed to give students a break from their rigorous military studies, his lawyer said.

Although the program has been around for decades, it has led to complaints before.

The (Baltimore) Sun reported in 2007 that investigative documents, which it had obtained, indicated at least 15 midshipmen said they were victims of some kind of sexual misconduct in their sponsors' homes or at the hands of sponsors.

Cmdr. Joe Carpenter, an academy spokesman, said there are 1,600 sponsors in the program and all applicants are checked through sex offender and criminal record databases. Carpenter described the program as positive, giving midshipmen a chance to interact with the community.

"Allegations of sponsor misbehavior are extremely rare," Carpenter said.

Shropshire's attorney, Gill Cochran, said in an interview that the charges against his client are "untrue, unfair and unjust" and will be opposed in court.

According to police, Shropshire and the midshipman were in the car at about 11 p.m. when the alderman placed his hand on the man's "crotch and grabbed his genitals" for about 30 seconds. The midshipman pushed Shropshire's hand away, police said.

After Shropshire again touched his crotch, the midshipman asked him what he was doing and the alderman apologized, the 21-year-old told police. The midshipman then got out of the car.

He told police he has known Shropshire since 2007. Cochran said Shropshire had acted as an academy sponsor to the midshipman "until recently." The Associated Press does not identify victims of sexual assault.

No court dates have been set, Cochran said.

He added that he doesn't know how the allegations will affect Shropshire's bid for mayor in the 2009 primary.

"We'll have to sort through that," Cochran said.

In a separate case, a Navy doctor who hosted students at his house as part of the program was sentenced last year to two years in prison and kicked out of the military for setting up a secret camera to record midshipmen having sex.

Cmdr. Kevin Ronan maintained midshipmen made the tapes to extort money from him.

UN official calls for Sri Lanka reconciliation

A top U.N. official appealed to Sri Lanka on Friday to begin a process of national reconciliation following its war with the Tamil Tiger rebels, but also cautioned that investigations into war crimes allegations remain possible.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was traveling Friday to Sri Lanka to discuss the conditions of nearly 300,000 ethnic Tamil civilians displaced by the war and to urge the government to work to heal the nation's ethnic divisions in the wake of the conflict, said his chief of staff, Vijay Nambiar.

The war broke out in 1983 with the Tamil Tigers demanding a separate homeland for the ethnic Tamil minority after decades of marginalization by the majority Sinhalese. In recent months, an intense government offensive forced the rebels to retreat from their strongholds in the north and cornered them along with tens of thousands of civilians along the northeast coast.

Ban sent Nambiar to Sri Lanka last week to press the government to pull back from its final offensive and allow the civilians in the war zone to escape. However, after he arrived, the military routed the rebels and killed their leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, effectively ending the war.

Prabhakaran's body was cremated and his ashes sent "into the air," said military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara.

A total of 6,260 soldiers were killed in the latest round of fighting, which started in 2006, Nanayakkara said. The military said 22,000 rebel fighters were killed during the recent battles, though it was not clear how they arrived at that number.

Nambiar said the government now needs to hold discussions with Tamil leaders to pursue a political solution to their grievances.

"The process of national reconciliation, we feel, must be all-inclusive so that it can fully address the legitimate aspirations of the Tamils as well as other minorities," he said. "It is important that victory becomes a victory for all Sri Lankans."

International human rights groups accused the government of shelling the densely populated war zone in the closing months of the war, killing thousands of civilians. The government denied the accusation. The rebels were also accused of holding tens of thousands civilians against their will as human shields against the government offensive.

Nambiar said he was flown over the former war zone in a helicopter Thursday and saw below him a scene of mass devastation.

Vehicles on the ground were charred, trees were burned and closely clustered tent camps were badly battered, he said.

"We were not able to see any civilians. What was truly striking was almost the total absence of human habitation ... it was almost eerie," he said.

Asked whether the United Nations planned to aid investigations into possible war crimes, Nambiar said the issue was expected to be discussed at the U.N. Human Rights Council next week.

"As far as the U.N. is concerned, where there are grave and systematic violations of international humanitarian law, these are things which should be looked at by the international community, by the United Nations," he said.

The U.N. estimates at least 7,000 Tamil civilians were killed in the final offensive this year and between 80,000 and 100,000 people were killed throughout the war.

Nambiar said Ban plans to visit displacement camps in the north, fly over the former battlefield and meet with top officials in his brief visit.

His talks will focus on conditions in the camps, the possibility of swiftly resettling the displaced and the need for an urgent political settlement to the conflict, Nambiar said. Ban will also commend the government for defeating the rebels, who were branded a terrorist group internationally.

Sri Lanka said Thursday that it planned to return most of the displaced to their homes this year.

The U.S.-based group Human Rights Watch called on Ban to highlight the plight of the displaced, push for unrestricted access for aid workers to the camps and the former battlefield and call for the government to support an international commission of inquiry into violations of the laws of war by both sides.

Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross said it had been allowed to speak Thursday with three government doctors who ran an overwhelmed makeshift hospital in the war zone and were detained by the government on accusations they gave false information to the media about civilian casualties.

International human rights groups have demanded the government release the doctors and give them access to legal counsel.

"The ICRC saw them and spoke in private to them," said Red Cross spokeswoman Sarasi Wijeratne. She gave no details of their conditions.