Thursday, June 09, 2005

Democracy Now: David Cole, Jamal Dajani; Bob Somerby, IMC on Bolivia, Margaret Kimberly, BuzzFlash interviews John Conyers, Jr.

Democracy Now! (Marcia: "always worth watching")
Headlines for June 9, 2005

- Bolivia: On the Verge of a Bloodbath?
- Kennedy and Kerry Raise Downing Street Memo
- UN: US Violating International Law
- US Soldiers Killed in Iraq and Afghanistan
- Recruiting Goals Not Met
- Noriega in Haiti
- 22 Killed in Ethiopa
- Janice Brown Confirmed
Patriot Act Two Passed by Senate Intelligence Committee

The controversial USA PATRIOT Act was passed in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Despite the protests of civil libertarians and immigrant rights groups, the Act may now be made permanent and expanded to allow for surveillance without judicial approval. We host a debate.
White House Environmental Chief Cooney Watered Down Climate Reports

The New York Times reported that a White House official who once led the oil industry's fight against limits on greenhouse gases has repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links between such emissions and global warming. The official -- Philip Cooney -- is chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Before coming to the White House in 2001, he was a lobbyist at the American Petroleum Institute. We speak with Greenpeace and the Sierra Club. [includes rush transcript - partial]
MOSAIC: World News From The Middle East

While channels like al Jazeera are known to many Americans, very few have ever watched a single minute of al Jazeera or other Arabic-language broadcasts. There is a place people can turn daily to judge for themselves how the news is delivered in the Middle East. We speak with Jamal Dajani, producer of the program MOSAIC: World News from the Middle East, winner of the presigious Peabody Award.
David Cole is a guest in the "Patriot Act Two Passed by Senate Intelligence Committee" above.  As Amy Goodman notes, he has an article in The Nation entitled "The Missing Patriot Debate:" 

The Patriot Act debate is on--sort of. Congress has until the end of the year to decide whether to reauthorize sixteen "sunsetted" provisions of the act that would otherwise expire on December 31. It is holding hearings, and even inviting civil liberties advocates to some of them. Six states and more than 370 cities and towns have adopted resolutions condemning the act's civil liberties abuses. Courts have declared some of its provisions unconstitutional. An impressive coalition of conservative and liberal groups, featuring the likes of former Republican Congressman Bob Barr and the ACLU's Anthony Romero, has vowed to restore checks and balances to a law passed in haste and fear just six weeks after 9/11. And one of the most powerful lobbies in the country is on the case--librarians.

But if Patriot Act opponents are expecting great things, they will be disappointed. Many of the worst provisions of the act are not even up for discussion. The disputes regarding the few provisions that are actually in play often concern only marginal details, while skirting more fundamental issues. And the whole debate is largely a diversion, because the worst civil liberties abuses since 9/11 have been achieved without reliance on the Patriot Act, as they are based on executive initiatives that Congress has no will to challenge.

To begin to understand just how limited the Patriot Act debate is, consider that the sixteen provisions at issue probably take up no more than twenty-five of the original act's 342 pages. Most of those sixteen provisions are now considered "noncontroversial," and are virtually certain to be reauthorized. The real battles are likely to focus on just two sections. One, popularly known as the "libraries provision," allows the government secretly to obtain records of any person from any business, regardless of wrongdoing; and the other authorizes secret "sneak and peek" searches of homes without promptly informing the homeowner. These two measures undoubtedly raise real concerns, but they hardly warrant the kind of mass rallying that both sides have mustered since the Patriot Act was passed.

Bob Somerby's dealing with a number of issues (Maria, check out the test scores) and we'll highlight this section from The Daily Howler today:
THE DAYAFTER: Finally! David Kirkpatrick was really smokin' in his New York Times profile of Janice Rogers Brown. "[S]ome Senate Democrats have even singled her out as the most objectionable of President Bush's more than 200 judicial nominees," the Times tough-talker said. Nor did he shrink from explaining Dem fury; Dems had been "citing [Brown's] criticism of affirmative action and abortion rights but most of all her sweeping denunciations of New Deal legal precedents that enabled many federal regulations and social programs--developments she has called 'the triumph of our socialist revolution.'" Indeed, at the very start of his piece, he laid out the justice’s oddball views.
[. . .]
But there's one slight problem with Kirkpatrick's report; it appears in this morning's Times, the day after Brown's confirmation! Much like its cowardly buddy (the Washington Post), the Times refused to profile Brown in the weeks before her Senate vote, when a tough-talking front-page profile like this might have sparked some real debate. But then, this is exactly what the fearless Times did in the case of another disputed judge, Priscilla Owen. Kirkpatrick did a front-page profile of Owen last Thursday--also on the morning after the Senate voted to confirm.

With these day-after profiles, the Times announces a fact; the paper has officially stood down from traditional journalistic duties. The paper will hide from the day's leading issues; it will only lay out a few facts after the issue is settled. Did readers deserve to read about Brown before the Senate took its vote? To all appearances, that obvious course would be too risky for the greatest of all Gotham papers. Instead, its editors took the sensible view--the rubes could read about Owen and Brown after George Bush got his druthers.

We've noted this pattern for the past several months. At the Post, you had to read the editorials if you wanted to learn basic facts about Brown (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/7/05). At the Times, you got a taste of Brown's oddball outlook--the morning after the vote. Repeatedly, our greatest papers are showing their High Foppist Values as they refuse to report and challenge. But then, when you get your crumbs from inane millionaires, your bread will be stale--a day late.

Rachel e-mails to note "Gas Wars Erupt Again in Bolivia" "a resource page Francisco may find interesting.  From that IMC resource:
In the latest phase of Bolivia's "gas wars", President Carlos Mesa resigned on June 6 under heavy pressure from social movements to nationalize hydrocarbons. Peasant farmers are taking over oil fields, transportation is paralyzed and the U.S. Embassy has begun evacuating personnel.

The government of the previous president of
Bolivia, Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozado, was toppled in October 2003 after Lozado signed contracts with transnational corporations giving away the gas and oil resources of Bolivia, Latin America's poorest country, for nearly free. Mesa, vice-president at the time, came into office promising to implement the "October agenda" of nationalization of hydrocarbons and convoking a constituent assembly to rewrite the Bolivian constitution in a way that includes the indigenous majority. However, since then Mesa has stalled, calling a national referendum on gas resources that did not include the option of nationalization--which, according to polls, was favored by a majority of Bolivians. On May 17, under pressure from social movements, Mesa passed a bill increasing taxes on multinationals but falling short of popular demands for nationalization of gas and oil, sparking a major wave of marches and strikes throughout the country. Despite Mesa's call for a constituent assembly on June 2, protests demanding "nationalization now" have only grown in strength.

From The Black Commentator, Kara e-mails to note Margaret Kimberley's "John Conyers and Deep Throat:"

Deep Throat was the anonymous source who helped Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein break the Watergate story. For the past 30 years the identity and in some cases the very existence of Deep Throat has been called into question until Mark Felt recently revealed himself to be the mystery man.

There have been many opportunities for eager reporters to bring down the current White House occupant, but no one in the corporate media seems to want the job. At the end of 2000 Greg Palast, an American reporter working for the British press, revealed that Florida Governor Jeb Bush had removed thousands of eligible voters, most of them black, from the voter registration rolls, thereby stealing the state for his brother George W.

At that time the media told us about hanging chads and butterfly ballots, but nothing about the true theft of Florida and the presidency. When Palast handed the story to CBS, the Washington Post and others, he was told that Jeb denied everything. In the current political climate a denial from a subject, a powerful subject that is, means the end of any reporting.

Bob Woodward is now managing editor at the Washington Post. While he cut his teeth on the dethronement of a criminal presidency, he is now in bed with another criminal presidency. Woodward wrote Bush at War with the full cooperation of the Bush White House. Trusted by Bush, Cheney, Rove and company, Woodward now perfectly fits the definition of a compromised journalist.

There is plenty of evidence to bring articles of impeachment against this president. One member of Congress is trying to bring attention to information that stares the corporate media in the face but is rarely if ever acknowledged.

BuzzFlash has another one of their strong interviews up -- and it's with the "member of Congress" Kimberley was speaking of in the above article: House Rep. John Conyers and Troy e-mailed to note the interview:

BuzzFlash: Congressman, first of all, thank you for the time. And I wanted to tell you we’ve begun a new award here at, and you are our first recipient of our Wings of Justice award, which we are going to give out weekly.

John Conyers, Jr.: Oh, no!

BuzzFlash: And you are our first recipient.

John Conyers, Jr.: I'm honored. I'm flattered. Thanks so much

BuzzFlash: You are such a hero for democracy. But right now, you're working very specifically on the implications of the Downing Street Memo. Among the many things you're trying to do to restore democracy to the United States, one person-one vote, and the Constitutional guarantees that we were given in 1776, one thing that you're doing is to try and hold this Administration accountable. And you are focusing on what has become known as the Downing Street Memo, which was written in July of 2002, but only came forth in the Times of London a few weeks ago. And you were asking for people to join you and 88 other members of Congress in writing President Bush to hold him accountable for what it says in the Downing Street Memo. So can you tell us a little bit more about why the memo is important, and also how many Americans have joined you thus far in signing on to the letter?

John Conyers, Jr.: Well, this has been one of those projects that comes to your attention, and you begin to express some surprise that nobody has inquired into it before. This Downing Street declassified British intelligence memorandum wasn't the result of weeks of hard investigation and deep research on the part of our staff. It appeared in a newspaper and was being widely circulated in the media around Europe. A number of countries in Europe, their newspapers, their television and radio, were all full of it.

And so we were surprised that there had been almost a wall of silence here in the United States that we couldn't get through, that was blocking us out. And to some extent, we've been able to get through this porous wall of silence so that we've finally gotten down to the fact that we know that according to the meetings that were going on, that President Bush had enlisted Mr. Blair into a plan to start a war with a country with which we had very little reason to go to war with. And the notion was to find out why they did this and why was the President of the United States denying that it was his intention to go to war when it was very clear among the Bush Cabinet and Mr. Blair and his organization that that was exactly what they were going to do.

And so we have a couple of pretty important questions that leap up at one immediately. And the first was: why did the President deny to the Congress that he was planning to go to war, when at the same time he was implementing plans to go to war? And that is a very disturbing feature. The second thing that comes to mind right away is that if the Congress had known that the President was already laying plans for war, would they have given him additional military authority? The debate would have been quite different, I would presume. I would not give him that authority. I would use his intentions and desire to start a war with another country as an additional reason not to give him the power. And I think a number of other people would have rethought their positions. It would have been a much, much different debate.

BuzzFlash: Now you call this memo a smoking gun. It has a phrase in it that is quite pivotal. The phrase that, in essence, Tony Blair had no choice but to go to war because the U.S. -- the Bush Administration -- was going to "fix intelligence" to ensure that a war with Iraq occurred. The exact phrase is: "But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." And so Britain really didn't have much option either to go along or not go along. But the memo states that the U.S. was intent on going to war. This was in July of 2002 -- as you said, at a time when Bush was saying he has made no decision, and he was going to allow the U.N. to follow its course and so forth.

I'll add to this by noting that Troy highlighted John Conyers for Black History month on February 8th and that if you're unfamiliar with Conyers, check out Troy's entry. In that entry, Troy noted a speech Conyers gave on the House floor in June of 2003 that's worth noting again:

In public speech after speech, the President and his supporting players assured America's anxious citizens that attacking Iraq was absolutely necessary to prevent the imminent threat of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction from harming them and their loved ones.

In addition, President Bush was determined to convince the public that Saddam was personally behind, or at least intimately involved in 9/11. He and Vice President Cheney repeated that mantra incessantly. No wonder that about half of the country still believes that Saddam was involved, although our intelligence community has emphasized that there is no credible evidence that is true.

The e-mail address for this site is and we'll close with an announcement of an event a member, Brendan, asked be noted.  Listeners of The Laura Flanders Show will be familiar with the play being performed in Boston tonight, 

Thursday, 09 June 2005
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM

Organizer: ACLU of Massachusetts, the Cambridge Peace Commission, the Commu


Why has former US Army Sergeant Erik Saar in his recent book called the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay "a drastic mistake"? Why has Archbishop Tutu demanded that it be shut down?

Join the discussion at Boston-area community readings of the play "GUANTANAMO: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom".

All are Free of Charge and will be followed by a discussion of the issues.

The play was created by British journalist Victoria Brittain and writer Gillian Slovo and played in London to sold-out audiences before moving to New York City last summer. Based entirely on spoken and written testimony, it focuses on the stories of five British detainees in Guantanamo Bay.

The community readings have been organized by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, the Cambridge Peace Commission, the Community Church of Boston and Freedom House, Inc. ?Co-sponsoring the events are Amnesty International, Brookline PeaceWorks, the Unitarian-Universalist Service Committee, and United for Justice with Peace. For more information: call (617) 482-3170 x 314 or visit ACLU-MASS

Community Church of Boston, MA
(565 Boylston Street in Copley Square)

Cost: Free

Contact: For more information: call (617) 482-3170 x 314 or visit ACLU-MASS

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