Monday, March 28, 2005

Democracy Now:Critical Mass, Pablo Paredes, Camilo Mejia;The Progressive: Sy Hersh, Jude (Iddybud), Ron (Why Are We Back in Iraq), The Daily Howler

Democracy Now! "always worth watching" (Marica) includes a segment with Camilo Mejia that you won't want to miss.

Headlines for March 28, 2005
- Report: U.S. Troops Tortured & Killed Detainees in Mosul
- Pentagon Declines to Prosecute Soldiers Involved in Killings
- Nearly 300 Contractors Killed So Far in Iraq
- Terri Schiavo Given Last Rites & Easter Communion
- Tom DeLay Took Father Off Life Support in 1988
- Hundreds Attend Funerals in Red Lake After Shootings
- U.S. To Resume Selling F-16 Fighter Planes to Pakistan
- Mass Anti-China Protest Fills Taiwanese Streets
- Panel: Ward Churchill Can't Be Fired For 9/11 Comments

NYPD Attempts To Criminalize Bike Riders Taking Part in Critical Mass
On Friday, police arrested 37 riders and confiscated dozens of bicylcles. Last week, the city filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent the group TIME'S UP! from promoting or advertising events that the city alleges to be illegal. The lawsuit also states that TIME'S UP! and the general public cannot participate in riding or gathering at the Critical Mass bike ride.

Pablo Paredes Faces Court Martial For Refusing to Fight in Iraq
On Friday, the Navy announced that Paredes will face a special court-martial, the military equivalent of a civilian misdemeanor trial. The charges against him include absence without leave and missing movement. [includes rush transcript]

Jailed War Resister Camilo Mejia on His 9-Month Jail Sentence, Torture in Iraq and Why He Refused to Fight
Mejia was the first US soldier court-martialed for desertion and was ultimately sentenced to a year in jail. He was released in mid-February. Mejia spent six months in combat in Iraq where he witnessed the killing of civilians and the abuse of detainees. After He returned to the United States he decided never to return to fight in Iraq. He went into hiding to avoid redeployment and was classified as AWOL by the military. He spent five months underground. [includes rush transcript]

New edition of The Progressive is available online. One feature to check out is David Barsamian's interview with Seymour Hersh.

Q: After you broke the story of the Abu Ghraib scandal, Rice put the blame on the uniform military who she said didn't get the orders right.
Hersh: Bush did the same thing. He kept on saying, we don't do torture, I've told everybody that torture is not acceptable. At the same time, he's running a regime in which there are no rules basically for prisoners. You can do what you want despite all this talk and the investigations. The bottom line on the prisoner issue is that there are no rules, just do what you want. Maybe they've insisted on a few since the scandals but certainly the Iraqi police and military seem to have no rules. There's still abuse there. Guantánamo still continues.
Rice just thinks that because the President said at one point publicly that torture is not acceptable, that's it, that's the answer. He told the military torture is not acceptable. If they did it, then it's their problem, as if somehow the President has no responsibility. It's like when Rumsfeld was questioned by the soldier about the lack of armor for the Humvees and other vehicles, he said, well, it's tough in war. The President backed him up, saying he's doing the best job he can, as if somehow he wasn't responsible, too, as much as Rumsfeld, for ensuring that soldiers have the proper equipment. We had a lot of time to plan for that war. It's like there's no there there with these people. Words are just words. They don't have any meaning. And often with Rice, that's true.
But I would recommend any American who wants to understand where the government is going in the next four years to get a copy of her confirmation hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It's a road map, and it's pretty frightening testimony. Their definition of where democracy should go in the Middle East doesn't include Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan; it only includes Iraq, Iran, and Syria.

Maria writes "tell everyone to, in the words of Stephanie Tubbs-Jones, "haul butt" over to Iddybud!" At Iddybud, Jude's discussing future strategies for Democratic candidates:

What any Democrat serious about running for President in 2008 should think about is to start talking about this up-front. It's their political funeral if they don't. The mainstream media does not hold the same sway that it once did with informed Democratic voters. The blogs and the internet are a new tour de force in campaigns. Grassroots Democrats are entering the political scene with a force never before witnessed in American politics.
If any Democratic presidential hopeful thinks we want to hear our candidates competing with the NeoConservatives for who's the tougher cookie, the cookie's going to crumble. The Democrats should be highly criticizing the NeoConservatives and exposing the part they played in taking our country into the most unwise elective war since Viet Nam.
It's time we heard something realistic from our Democratic presidential-hopefuls. We aren't willing to play into any fantasy when it comes to our troops and how we decide to use them. I'm sick and tired of being labeled "a fanatic" for only wanting the truth and openness from our government. Truthfulness and openness are moral values and no one - especially a Republican government of free people - should be exempt from following them.

Bob Somerby's The Daily Howler is always worth reading. Here's an excerpt from today:

How can "liberal spokesmen" be so inept? Consider what happened when E. J. Dionne invited a brilliant insider panel to discuss "The Impact of the New Media" at the Brookings Institution (links to tape and transcript below). By law, these discussions must be as vapid as possible, so E. J. had dutifully asked Wonkette to add her stale backlash act to the outing. Result? Here was the first Q-and-A about those important "new media."

DIONNE: Let me begin with Ana Marie Cox, who posted an interesting set of questions in her [background submission]...She also said, and this is what I think I'll throw at her: "It wouldn't be a blogging panel if someone didn't ask about. 'Don't bloggers sometimes get things wrong.'" So why don't we start there?
COX: It's usually my own private drinking game--when someone asks about bloggers getting everything wrong, everyone drinks. I wish! First, I just want to say, if my answer seems sort of more fuzzy than usual, it's not the bourbon, it's Robitussin. I've got a bad cough.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! But at any rate: Do bloggers sometimes get things wrong? Yes, the two-hour panel was just as pointless as this vacuous opening question. But at least we all got to hear Wonkette talk about how much she drinks--helping us see the intellectual horizons of today’s perfumed insider "press corps."

Let's wind down with Ron of Why Are We Back In Iraq? who's addressing Ohio:

Today...finally...a transcript of some of the testimony has been posted (but interestingly enough, Thor's testimony is not included though it's posted on the American Center For Voting Rights Website). So I bring you some of Kenneth Blackwell's defiant testimony (link):
"But first, I am compelled to speak to the fabrications, exaggerations, and innuendos that some who dislike the fact that their presidential candidate lost Ohio keep repeating. Unlike Mr. McTigue, they dismiss evidence and simple explanations – and the word of fellow Democrats – when the intimation of some vast conspiracy to steal the election is so much more exhilarating."
"Sadly, these fabrications come not only from disappointed partisans talking to each other on internet boards, but also from people in responsible positions and people with enough experience in electoral politics to know better."
[. . .]
It shouldn't come as a surprise that there is no transcript of the testimony of Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs-Jones either. Another disgraceful day in America, folks. What the f**k are we going to do about this? If these undemocratic Americans get their way, there will be no real election reform in America, and we can't let that happen.

[Note: Yes, there are blogger problems.]