Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Democracy Now: Cindy Sheehan, Karen Kwiatkowski, Patrick Cockburn; Bob Somerby, Matthew Rotshcild, Anthony Lewis

Democracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says).
Ethan wanted this highlighted from the Headlines (below) of today's Democracy Now!:
U.S. Accused of Killing Three Iraqi Journalists
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.
Headlines for June 29, 2005

- Bush Defends War, Links Iraq To 9/11 Attacks
- U.S. Helicopter Shot Down In Afghanistan
- U.S. Accused of Killing Three Iraqi Journalists
- Report: Italy to Seek Extradition of 13 CIA Agents
- Saudi Ambassador to U.S. Resigns
- UN: International Tribune May Be Needed For E. Timor Killings
- House Votes to Lift Restrictions on Military Assistance to Indonesia
- Labor Dept Tried to Hide Studies on CAFTA
- Castro Meets With Chavez to Discuss Oil Deal
Fmr. Pentagon Insider Blasts Bush's Iraq Speech and Repeated References to 9/11

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]
Journalist Patrick Cockburn Calls Iraq a "Bloody Mess" One Year After Handover of "Sovereignty"

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.
Mother of Soldier Killed in Iraq: "The Best Way To Honor My Son's Death Would Be To Bring The Troops Home"

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.
Iraqi Blogger Criticizes Western Media For Excluding Iraqi Voices

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?'"
Rahul Mahajan: "Bush Trots Out Bin Laden to Justify Anything He is Doing"

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.
Moving over to The Daily Howler, Bob Somerby's dealing with a number of issues and a visitor wants this section highlighted:
TRIPPED AT TAPPED: We constantly hear it on kooky-con radio, but there it was in yesterday's Tapped! In the latest installment of "Spin Marches On," Garance Franke-Ruta typed this:
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.

Let’s start with some actual data. If Perot hadn’t 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 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.

The VRS polled more than 15,000 voters. On November 12, Dionne provided more details about Perot voters:
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.

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.

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.
There are other issues Somerby's dealing with -- Chris Matthews, Bully Boy's speech -- but we'll go with an undisclosed visitor instead. 
Undisclosed visitor noted that "you argued Perot helped Clinton win in the post about feminism."  The visitor is referring to this passage (I'm assuming -- it's the only time I've ever mentioned Perot that I'm aware, if he pops up otherwise, it would be via a member):
Now some can live in the land of conventional wisdom and blame women, or racial minorities or GLBT but that's not really reality. And in fact, in 1992, Bill Clinton ran on a very strong message of gay rights. Someone can argue that Perot spoiled that election if they like, but if pro-choice positions, GLBT, et al were unpopular positions, Poppy Bush would have had a cake walk campaign and a second term. That didn't happen.
Undisclosed vistor needs to read the full paragraph (if not the full entry).  "Now some can live in the land of . . ."  "Someone can argue that Perot spoiled that election if they like . . ."  To argue, as visitor does, that I've stated Perot pulled from Poppy is missing the set up in that paragraph. 
Poppy blew 1992 all by himself.  Near the end of the campaign, the slosh-coffee-all-over-and-lecture-Tabitha-Soren-with-pointed-finger was a big thing for some undecided youth voters (who saw it on MTV). "Someone" can argue otherwise.  They're welcome to or not depending upon their love of "conventional wisdom."  There's nothing in there that's in opposition with Somerby's writing (and if there were, I'd stick to my own guns and say "I disagree").
And I'm getting stuck on this part in terms of what needs to be disclosed and what I want to disclose.  So I'll leave it at that and we'll move on.  (Otherwise I'll keep writing a series of paragraphs and then deleting them.)
From Matthew Rotschild, we'll note "In Praise of Judith Miller:"
But Miller remains defiant, insisting she will go to jail before disgorging her sources.
"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."

She's right.

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 alternate view that Rothschild refers to, Anthony Lewis' essay for The New York Review of Books, is entitled "Privilege & the Press."  Here is an excerpt from that:

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.[14] 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.[15]
Also from Matthew Rothschild, we'll note "Breyer Wimps Out:" 

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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