In Iraq, U.S. troops have killed as many as three Iraqi journalists over the past week. Reporters Without Borders have called for an investigation into the shooting death of the program director for al-Sharqiya television. He was shot dead on Tuesday while driving near a U.S. convoy. On Sunday, a news editor with a local Baghdad TV channel was shot dead by U.S. troops in the capital. And on Friday, an Iraqi reporter working for an American news organization was shot and killed in Baghdad, allegedly by U.S. troops. The U.S. military has not confirmed any of the killings. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 45 journalists and 20 media support workers have been killed while covering the war in Iraq.
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In a primetime address to the nation, President Bush defended the war in Iraq and rejected calls to set a deadline for withdrawing U.S. troops. In his speech, Bush repeatedly tried to connect the war in Iraq to September 11 even though Iraq had no role in the attacks. We speak with former Pentagon insider, Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski. [includes rush transcript]
We speak with Middle East journalist Patrick Cockburn of the Independent (UK) who finds that since the so-called handover of sovereignty in Iraq, 948 U.S. soldiers have died; thousands of Iraqis have been killed; 52 senior Iraqi government or religious figures have been assassinated; and the number of Iraqi military and police being killed each month has jumped by fifty percent.
As President Bush refuses to set a timetable for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, we speak with Cindy Sheehan, her son, Casey, was killed in Iraq in 2004. Sheehan calls on President Bush to withdraw the over 130,000 troops from Iraq and for Congress to investigate the Downing Street minutes.
We speak with Faiza Jarrar, an Iraqi blogger about President Bush's speech and the occupation of Iraq. Jarrar says, "When does Bush care about the Iraqi people? Iraq is a 25 million population. Who will go to ask them 'what is your attitude about this war' or 'what is your future' or 'what is your plan to leave?'"
We speak with Middle East analyst Rahul Mahajan the 130,000 U.S. troops stationed in Iraq and President Bush's rare reference to Osama bin Laden in his primetime address.
FRANKE-RUTA (6/28/05): President Bush has had persistently low poll numbers for some time...Recently, he's received his lowest ratings yet. Still, he's polling in the low- to mid-40s, and it's worth recalling that his father had a job approval rating of only 34 percent in mid-1992, before his electoral loss to Bill Clinton. Even with such very low Bush Sr. numbers, Clinton was only able to garner 43 percent of the vote nationwide, and might well have lost the race had it not been for Ross Perot's third-party candidacy.Omigod! Clinton "might well have lost the race had it not been for Ross Perot!" It's recited like scripture on kooky-con radio. Now, Tapped is reciting it too.
Readers, where does spin come from? "Clinton won because of Perot" provides a good case study.
Lets start with some actual data. If Perot hadnt been in the 92 race, would Bush the elder have beaten Clinton? The exit polling was abundantly clear, and it was widely reported. On November 8, 1992--five days after the election--E. J. Dionne penned a first report in the Post. Headline: "Perot Seen Not Affecting Vote Outcome:"
DIONNE (11/8/92): Ross Perot's presence on the 1992 presidential ballot did not change the outcome of the election, according to an analysis of the second choices of Perot supporters.The VRS polled more than 15,000 voters. On November 12, Dionne provided more details about Perot voters:
The analysis, based on exit polls conducted by Voter Research & Surveys (VRS) for the major news organizations, indicated that in Perot's absence, only Ohio would have have shifted from the Clinton column to the Bush column. This would still have left Clinton with a healthy 349-to-189 majority in the electoral college.
And even in Ohio, the hypothetical Bush "margin" without Perot in the race was so small that given the normal margin of error in polls, the state still might have stuck with Clinton absent the Texas billionaire.
DIONNE (11/12/92): In House races, Perot voters split down the middle: 51 percent said they backed Republicans, 49 percent backed Democrats. In the presidential contest, 38 percent of Perot supporters said they would have supported Clinton if Perot had not been on the ballot and 37 percent said they would have supported Bush.We all know exit polls are imperfect. But these are the actual available data about the preferences of Perot voters. Nor was this exit poll kept secret. One day after the election, the AP sent the news far and wide.
An additional 6 percent of Perot voters said they would have sought another third-party candidate, while 14 percent said they would not have voted if Perot had not run.
"Journalists simply cannot do their jobs without being able to commit to sources that they won't be identified," she said. "Such protection is critical to the free flow of information in a democracy."
Journalists should have cover, under the First Amendment, to go about their work in a legal manner, and providing confidentiality is, at times, pivotal to the news gathering process.
Journalists should also have cover under the same confidentiality principle that grants privileges to lawyers with their clients, doctors with their patients, and spouses with each other.
(Anthony Lewis explores this principle in the July 14 issue of The New York Review of Books, though he comes to a different conclusion.)
Fitzgerald's pursuit of Miller and Cooper is more than passing strange. The prosecutor has not brought charges against Novak, much less against anyone in the White House.
Instead, he is pursuing journalists for just doing their jobs.
I praise Judith Miller for standing up to him, and for risking time behind bars in doing so.
That is courage.
The issue of confidential sources cannot be resolved, I fear, in a way that satisfies the needs of both journalism and the law. There is no doubt that journalists must sometimes rely on confidential sources. The press has overdone the use of unnamed sources, and that can endanger its credibility-- as the recent flap over Newsweek's Koran item illustrated. But on profound matters reporters may properly invoke confidential sources, for if they were not to do so, official wrongdoing would never be uncovered: Watergate provides a persuasive example. And if a reporter promises confidentiality, he or she must keep the promise. But it does not follow that the law must always back off from an attempt to discover the sources.
A South African case illustrates the point. In the apartheid years a weekly news magazine called To the Point published an article about a black minister, the Reverend Dr. Manas Buthelezi, saying that while he spoke publicly of the need for peaceful change, according to "reliable sources" he privately advocated "violence." That was an extremely damaging charge in that era; it could have led to Dr. Buthelezi's imprisonment. He sued To the Point for libel--and demanded to know the names of the "reliable sources." The editor claimed a privilege to keep them secret. The court rejected the claim and awarded damages to Dr. Buthelezi. Some time later, in what South Africans called the "Information Scandal," leaks from the Ministry of Information showed that the article had been written by the secret police and planted in To the Point.
Reputations can easily be ruined by false reports in the press. Do we really want the authors of defamatory articles to be able to hide behind alleged anonymous sources? And the argument that journalists should be given a privilege against having to testify, whether by judicial decision or a new federal shield law, courts another danger. It would risk adding to the already evident public feeling that the press thinks it is entitled to special treatment. The press does not need, right now, to separate itself further from the public. Any privilege that is won should surely be qualified, not absolute, with judges balancing the interests, as Judge Tatel indicated, and with his respectful care.
Justice William J. Brennan Jr. was one of the press's greatest judicial friends. But when press organizations lost a case in the Supreme Court and cried out that the Constitution was unraveling, he urged them to be more careful and more understanding in their claims. "This," he said,
may involve a certain loss of innocence, a certain recognition that the press, like other institutions, must accommodate a variety of important social interests.
Justice Stephen Breyer just wimped out.
Instead of coming down clearly against displays of the Ten Commandments on public property, he split the difference, finding a distinction where there was no meaningful one to be had.
The Court was deeply divided, as it often is, though this time, Sandra Day O'Connor, who is usually the swing justice, was on the liberal side in both the Texas and the Kentucky cases.
Had Breyer stayed within his customary liberal camp, the Court would have spoken clearly against what amounts to the establishment of Judeo-Christian religion in this country, as Justice John Paul Stevens pointed out.
Instead, because of Breyer, the Court garbled its message.
And because I got so stuck on the "Do I want to go into this" or not (following the Somerby entry), I've not got about two seconds to wrap this up.
So let me throw this out quickly, BuzzFlash's Wings of Justice hands out their latest award (remember, this is the one people would like to win) and it goes to Barbara Boxer so check that out and also BuzzFlash has an interview with FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein. BuzzFlash always has wonderful interviews and we'll excerpt this evening when there's more time.
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