Thursday, February 17, 2005

Democracy Now!: Iran in the crosshairs?; Amy Goodman interviews Jane Mayer; new HIV strain, Marjorie Cohn on Lynne Stewart; Dahr Jamail

Great Democracy Now! episode as always. Lynda e-mails to note that Jane Mayer appears on today's episode and "pass on to everyone that they have to hear this interview!"

Headlines for February 17, 2005
- CIA Head: Iraq Policy Is Fueling Islamic Resentment
- Shiites To Pick Prime Minister by Secret Ballot
- Contractors Recall Killing of Civilians In Iraq
- Greenpeace Activists Storm Petroleum Exchange
- Tom Ridge Met With GOP Pollsters During Campaign
- House Votes to Increase Broadcaster Fines to $500K for Indecency
Iran in the Crosshairs?: As U.S. Increases Threats, Iran Vows to Form "United Front" With Syria
Iran and Syria directly confronted the Bush administration Wednesday by declaring they will form a "united front" to confront possible threats against them by the United States. The move was announced after a meeting in Tehran between the Vice President of Iran and the Syrian prime minister. We speak with former Iranian diplomat Mansour Farhang.

New Highly Resistant Strain of HIV Diagnosed in NYC
Late last week, the New York City Health Department reported that a highly resistant strain of HIV was diagnosed for the first time in a New York City resident.

Outsourcing Torture: The Secret History of America's "Extraordinary Rendition"
Journalist Jane Mayer outlines her major new article in The New Yorker on the practice known as "extraordinary rendition," where prisoners, such as Maher Arar, are shipped to countries known for their poor human rights records and history of torture.

The CBS Three Won't Slink Off
Five weeks after CBS blamed them for botching an expose into President Bush's questionable service in the Texas Air National Guard, three staffers who were asked to resign are refusing to quit.

Marjorie Cohn has an essay worth reading, "First They Came for Lynne Stewart . . ." at

Why did the government wait so long before indicting Lynne Stewart? According to Heidi Boghosian, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild, Stewart was a "prime target for the Attorney General, who needed desperately to show that the Justice Department was actively fighting terrorism."
When Stewart was indicted, John Ashcroft had arrested only one person since September 11 - John Walker Lindh. "By indicting Stewart," noted Boghosian, "Ashcroft effectively sent the dual message that he could indict other lawyers who represented clients with unpopular beliefs and that such clients do not deserve defense."
The same day Bush signed the USA Patriot Act into law, General Ashcroft announced an interim amendment to the Bureau of Prisons regulation, which took effect five days later, without the usual public comment period. It permits the Department of Justice (DOJ) unlimited and unreviewable discretion to eavesdrop on confidential attorney-client conversations of persons in custody, with no judicial oversight and no meaningful standards. It applies not only to convicted inmates, but to all persons in the custody of the DOJ, including pretrial detainees, material witnesses, and immigration detainees who have not been accused of any crime.
At a 2002 convention of the National Lawyers Guild, Stewart expressed alarm at what her indictment portends for the future of the attorney-client privilege and criminal defense. She said, "This is about protecting the right to defend. Once the attorney-client privilege is lost, there is no right to defend as we know it." Speaking about the government's monitoring of her conversations with her client, Stewart stated, "The question you should be asking is not what I was doing in that room, but what was the government doing in that room?"
During the McCarthy period of the 1950s, in an effort to eradicate the perceived threat of communism, the government engaged in widespread illegal surveillance to threaten and silence anyone who had an unorthodox political viewpoint. Many people were jailed, blacklisted and lost their jobs. Thousands of lives were shattered as the FBI engaged in "red-baiting."
Since September 11, those who question government policy have been, and will continue to be, branded "terrorist." Even though "terrorism" was not an element of any of the offenses with which Lynne Stewart was charged, and Osama bin Laden was not part of any of the charges, the prosecution was permitted to bring bin Laden's name into the trial.
A written threat from the Jewish Defense Organization was posted on the door to Stewart's home after 10 ½ days of jury deliberations in the trial. It referred to a message purporting "to reach out so the jurors understand what she is. And that's been done." The message gave Stewart's home address and said she "needs to be put out of business legally and effectively." It threatened to "drive her out of her home and out of the state." If this message did reach any jurors who were sitting on the fence, it may have pushed them over to the guilty side

Let's note that also has Dahr Jamail's "Media Held Guilty of Deception:"

Fernando Suarez, who lost his son Jesus during the invasion of Iraq when he is said to have stepped on an illegal U.S. cluster bomb, also testified at the tribunal.
Suarez testified that he was first told by the Pentagon that his son died from a gunshot to the head, then that he died in an accident, and then that he had died in 'friendly fire'.
On inspecting his son's body Suarez said he discovered that his son had died from stepping on a cluster bomb.
"I never had the truth from them," Suarez added. "I found the truth, and the truth was very simple. On March 26 the Army dropped 20,000 cluster bombs in Iraq, but only about 20 percent exploded. The other 80 percent are in the cities and the schools and acting like mines."
Suarez said: "Bush sent my son because he said Iraq had illegal weapons, and my son died from an illegal American weapon, and nobody has spoken about this. The media will not talk about the illegal American weapons."
Several witnesses testified about media disinformation over the siege of Fallujah. They were presented copies of the award winning documentary 'Weapons of Mass Deception' by journalist and film-maker Danny Schechter, who is also executive editor of, an online media issues network.
Alessandrini said evidence of active complicity of the mainstream media in wrongs committed against the people of Iraq, and the wrongs of deception and incitement, was now overwhelming.
"We work from the understanding that history will recall the crimes committed against the people of Iraq by the U.S.," he said. "It is our responsibility to record these crimes in order to ensure these crimes are never again repeated."