Friday, June 17, 2005

Democracy Now: Downing St. Memo, Reginald Keyes, Normon Solomon; Bob Somerby, DC Indymedia, BuzzFlash, Randi Zimmerman

Democracy Now! ("always worth watching" as Marcia says)

- U.S. Launches Offensive In Iraq
- Americans Disapprove of Bush Iraq Policy
- Calls for Clear Exit Strategy Mount
- U.S. Lied About 'Napalm' Use in Iraq
- Halliburton Gets New Gitmo Contract
- Bush Admin Alters G8 Global Warming Language
- AIDS Experiments on Foster Kids Violated Federal Law
- Killen Trial Stopped Briefly
PBS TV Station President Warns CPB Funding Cuts Will Launch "Spiral of Death for Public Broadcasting"

On Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee voted to drastically cut funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. We host a roundtable discussion on the continuing fight over public broadcasting in this country with the presidents of two PBS stations as well as Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy.
Downing Street and Beyond: Hearing Builds Momentum for Full Investigation

More than thirty members of Congress convened at a public hearing in Washington Thursday to investigate the so-called "Downing Street memo." We play excerpts of the hearing chaired by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) that featured former ambassador Joe Wilson, veteran CIA analyst Ray McGovern, attorney John Bonifaz and Cindy Sheehan whose son Casey was killed in Iraq in 2004. [includes rush transcript - partial]
British Father of Soldier Killed in Iraq: "My Son Died For a Lie"

We speak with Reginald Keyes, British father of Lance Corporal Tom Keyes, who was killed in Iraq in June 2003. Keyes ran against British Prime Minister Tony Blair in the British elections earlier this year and he got roughly 10% of the vote.
Iran Votes in Presidential Election

Today's elections in Iran are expected to be the closest presidential election in the country's history. Former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is the leading candidate to succeed President Khatami. We go to Tehran to get a report. [includes rush transcript]
From Headlines, we'll note:
U.S. Lied About 'Napalm' Use in Iraq
Britain's Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram has admitted that the Bush administration lied to British officials about the use of napalm-type firebombs in Iraq. In a private letter obtained by The Independent newspaper of London, Ingram says the US originally told him they had not used so-called MK77s in Iraq at any time but then writes "I regret to say that I have since discovered that this is not the case and must now correct the position." The MK77 bombs are an evolution of the napalm used in Vietnam and Korea. They carry kerosene-based jet fuel and polystyrene so that the gel sticks to structures and to its victims. The bombs lack stabilizing fins, making them far from precise. Ingram said 30 MK77 firebombs were used by the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in the invasion of Iraq between March 31 and April 2, 2003. The Independent said that the revelation raises new questions about allegations that the napalm-like firebombs were used in the US assault on Fallujah last year, charges denied by the US.
To read more on this, go to Colin Brown's "US lied to Britain over use of napalm in Iraq war:"
American officials lied to British ministers over the use of "internationally reviled" napalm-type firebombs in Iraq.

Yesterday's disclosure led to calls by MPs for a full statement to the Commons and opened ministers to allegations that they held back the facts until after the general election.

Despite persistent rumours of injuries among Iraqis consistent with the use of incendiary weapons such as napalm, Adam Ingram, the Defence minister, assured Labour MPs in January that US forces had not used a new generation of incendiary weapons, codenamed MK77, in Iraq.

But Mr Ingram admitted to the Labour MP Harry Cohen in a private letter obtained by The Independent that he had inadvertently misled Parliament because he had been misinformed by the US. "The US confirmed to my officials that they had not used MK77s in Iraq at any time and this was the basis of my response to you," he told Mr Cohen. "I regret to say that I have since discovered that this is not the case and must now correct the position."

Martha e-mailed to note Colin Brown's article (from The Independent) above and notes she found the link in Danny Schechter's News Dissector this morning.

At The Daily Howler, Bob Somerby is taking on  a number of topics.  A) Chris Matthews' ongoing love affair with John McCain.  B)  The article by Raymond Hernandez in this morning's Times (when you see that byline, don't even bother to read) about the one time magazine editor of the Sunday magazine of the New York Times who has a book out trashing Hillary.  The man who never reported for the Times news section (and, judging by the photo, never learned to go for a 'natural' look when wearing make up).  C) Al Kamen with his shorts in a wad (he may need some static cling guard but his shorts seem to be eternally in a wad). D) E.J. Dionne's latest op-ed in the Washington Post.

We'll focus on this section where Somerby's critiquing Kamen attemps to wrap his mind, such as it is, around the Downing Street Memo issue:


It’s all there: Mockery of liberal blogs (or e-mailers), along with the insinuation or claim that everyone knew this stuff way back when. Good grief! Kessler published this "anecdote" in January 2003, Kamen says! So why would anyone make a fuss about the old news in the Downing Street memo?

Yes, Kamen is typing his master's script. But is it true? Did everyone know this stuff way back, perhaps in January 2003? Certainly not from Kessler's report, which was detailed but inconclusive on the issue at question. Kamen refers to a 2700-word piece by Kessler, a lengthy historical overview of the Bush Admin's thinking about Iraq. The report appeared on January 12, 2003--and if you read it, you wouldn't have known that Bush had decided on war with Iraq by July 2002. Kessler's report was well worth reading, but it hardly established the facts the Downing Street memos seem to suggest. Here's a fuller chunk of the "anecdote" Kamen has cadged from Kessler’s long report:

KESSLER (1/12/03): Serious military planning also began in earnest in the spring [of 2002]. Every three or four weeks, Army Gen. Tommy R. Franks, commander of U.S. Central Command, would travel to the White House to give Bush a private briefing on the war planning for Iraq.

On June 1, Bush made another speech, this time at West Point, arguing for a policy of preemption against potential threats. "If we wait for the threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long," Bush said. That month, two major foreign policy headaches--a potential war between India and Pakistan and the administration's uncertain policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict--were also resolved, freeing the White House to turn its full attention to confronting Iraq.

Only later did it become clear that the president already had made up his mind. In July, the State Department's director of policy planning, Richard N. Haass, held a regular meeting with Rice and asked whether they should talk about the pros and cons of confronting Iraq.

Don't bother, Rice replied: The president has made a decision.

But alas! This "anecdote" is rather unclear about the president's "decision." Bush had apparently decided to "confront Iraq," Kessler wrote--but what exactly did that mean? Did this mean that he wanted to go straight to war? Did it mean he wanted to go to the UN--leaving war as his last option, as he was claiming in public? The Downing Street memos suggest that Bush had settled on war, and wanted to bypass the UN altogether, or use it as a necessary political route to a war. Kessler's anecdote was suggestive, but unclear. No--you wouldn't have known from Kessler's piece that Bush had settled on war with Iraq, the point which the Downing Street memo seems to suggest.

And by the way, how many people ever read or heard about Kessler's anecdote? Almost no one. It came at the very end of Kessler's lengthy piece--in paragraphs 50 and 51 of the 51-paragraph report. Almost no one read this material--and a Nexis search suggests that almost no one in the press corps ever discussed it. Was Kessler's piece discussed on TV? A search on "Kessler AND Iraq" yields one citation for the remainder of January 2003. That was Bob Woodward on Larry King Live--and Woodward discussed a different part of Kessler's lengthy report. He didn't say that Bush had decided on war by July 2002. But then again, neither did anyone else, to judge from the Nexis records.

From DC Indymedia, Eddie e-mails to note William Hughes' "Rep. Conyers' Spotlights Bush's Pack of Lies:"

Washington, D.C. - Rep. John Conyers, Jr., the ranking Democratic member of the House Judiciary Committee, held a hearing on June 16, 2005, on the “Downing Street Memo.” The leaked British document is “a smoking gun,” in that it shows that, as early as July, 2002, President George Bush, Jr., and others in his administration, had decided to remove Iraq’s Saddam Hussein from power, via a preemptive military invasion of that country. In order to justify that action, Bush and his cohorts are suspected of putting in motion a plot, to “fix the policy...around the intelligence and the facts... dealing with the conjunction of terrorism and WMD...” In other words, they stand accused of “cooking the intelligence” to suit their own warmongering agenda!

Rep. Conyers, from Michigan, wanted to hold his hearing on Capitol Hill, in one of the large House office building rooms, but Republicans on his committee balked. Instead, he was forced to move his forum to a smaller room, “HC-9,” located in the Capitol itself. Nevertheless, 50 members of Congress showed up to lend their support to his efforts and almost every major news organization was present. The hearing lasted from 2:30 PM to 4:30 PM. I understand it included stellar testimony from a number of witnesses. I could only get into the hearing for a few minutes because of the size of the crowd, however I did make it to a rally afterwards at Lafayette Park, which was planned by progressive groups around the hearing. Fortunately, C-Span is planning to rebroadcast the Downing St. Memo hearing at a later date. Many who spoke at the congressional hearing earlier in the day, also showed up to talk at the Lafayette Park rally in front of the White House that followed.

One of the witnesses at that hearing and the rally was Cindy Sheehan, a Gold Star Mother. Sheehan said, “I think maybe, (after the hearing today), that I’m going to get some justice for Casey (her son, who was killed in Iraq), and for the 1,713 other brave Americans and the tens of thousands, uncounted and countless Iraqi people who have been killed by lies and by the betrayal of our country.” She continued, “President George W. Bush doesn’t deserve our allegiance. He doesn’t deserve to go back to Crawford, Texas. He deserves to go to prison for what he did.”

Also at DC Indymedia, note Brendan Hoffman's photo essay "Photos from Downing Street Memo Rally at White House."

From Boston Indymedia, we'll note Matthew Williams' "Protestors Outnumber Military Supporters, as Peace Activists Protest Army Recruitment on the Cambridge Common:"

On Tuesday, June 14, 2005, from 10:30 to 1:00 two to three hundred people gathered on the Cambridge Common to protest the army’s celebration of its 230th anniversary there, an event they turned into a blatant recruitment effort. This is part of larger drive by the military to get more people to join, response to the severe drop-offs in new recruits that all branches of the military face as the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan stretch on with no end in sight. Protesters spoke out against the attempts to entice students to join the army, by making it look fun by creating something of a fair on the Common--when those who joined the army would most likely to be sent to kill and possibly be killed in pointless, bloody wars. In contrast to the large number of protesters, there were only about fifty to a hundred civilians there to attend the ceremonies, many of them school children bussed in as a fieldtrip. At times, it appeared that the protesters’ chants could clearly be heard over the official speakers at the ceremony. There were seven arrests, all a result of protesters refusing to remain in the officially designated protest pit.

I arrived at the protest at 11:00, to find the peace activists there chanting quite angrily. I soon discovered why they were angry--three of them had been arrested half an hour before for attempting to exercise their right to free speech. I spoke with a number of witnesses, all of whom told me the same story. People had arrived planning to march, lead by members of Veterans for Peace, into the area of the Common where the army was holding its show and then hold a silent vigil. The police told them they could come in as long as they brought no sticks or megaphones. They agreed to these conditions, marched in, circled the stage and assembled for their vigil just to the stage’s left. The police then demanded that they move back several yards to an area further from the stage. According to Eric Zinman, “Some of the more venerable members said they wanted to stay where they were and they had the right to remain there as long as they were not blocking anyone else.” The police reacted by physically pushing back the line of activists and arresting three of these venerable activists who had refused to move. The remainder, they confined to a protest pit at the edge of the area where the army was holding its ceremonies. The police thus managed to turn what would have been a silent vigil into a crowd of people angrily calling out chants, even as the speakers took the stage during the army’s ceremonies. Although I couldn’t be sure from where I was standing, it seems like the chants could be clearly heard over the official speakers.

According to Nancy Ryan of the American Civil Liberties Union, who was keeping track of the arrests, the police’s actions were in violation of the First Amendment rights of free speech and peaceful assembly. “The ACLU is trying to monitor this because the city announced there would a protest pen. Anyone has the right to peacefully circulate in this area with a sign,” she said, indicating the entire area where the army had set up its displays.

My apologies to Anne of Peevish...I'm Just Saying.  I called her "Amanda" in last night's entry by mistake.  (I'll correct from home this evening.)  Anne deserved credit for the entry we noted (sent in by Liang) and we're going to note her section again (but with her name correct this time):

Liang e-mails to note Anne's "Because I Do Think, Sometimes" (Peevish...I'm Just Saying)
because "this get's to why the minutes are important in the first place." From Amanda's

But where is it written that it's our choice to pick a country we don't like and to decide to turn it into a battleground? What gives us the right?
Nothing gives us the right, okay? This invasion was unconscionable.
The Iraqi people weren't consulted. They didn't get a vote. They don't have a choice. And they're dying by the thousands.
We had the option. We had a choice. And we chose to invade their country and kill tens of thousands of them.
It's just wrong.

Again, my apologies to Anne.

BuzzFlash has a strong editorial  "Busheviks Launch Diversionary Attack Against Dick Durbin for Telling the Truth About Gitmo. If You're Not a Member of "The Liar's Club," Expect a Withering Character Attack from the White House:"

Sometimes you think that you are in the middle of a Franz Kafka nightmare, when you are viciously attacked for upholding the rule of law, the Constitution and basic human rights. You find yourself on trial by the Busheviks for telling the truth. This is the ultimate unforgivable sin in the Bush regime that prides itself on the ability to get away with the brazen lie.

So, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, Assistant Democratic Minority Leader, found himself the victim of a Bush attack on the truth, as if he were "Joseph K." in Kafka's "The Trial." And what was Durbin's egregious, "reprehensible," unpardonable action? He dare to accuse the Bush Administration of torture at Guantanamo.

It's also time for the BuzzFlash choice for G.O.P. Hypocrite of the Week.  Who is it?  Use the link to find out.

Here's another item I'll do a heads up but not an excerpt, Mike Burke's CounterRecruiter has "Read the Pentagon's School Recruiting Program Handbook."

(Both items, my opinion, are spoiled with an excerpt.)

Kat (Kat's Korner) e-mails to note Randi Zimmerman is departing Free Speech Radio News:

Farewell to Randi Zimmerman
As we end our newscast today, we say farewell to headlines editor Randi Zimmerman. Randi has been an amazing part of our editorial team for the last four years, and we'll miss her greatly. On behalf of the entire FSRN family, we want to thank Randi for her years of service -- covering a broad range of issues including labor, activism, trade, immigration, civil rights and more. We take this opportunity to wish her the best and close by listening to a sampling of Randi's coverage of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and their aftermaths.

If you listen (Monday through Friday) to the half-hour Free Speech Radio News, you're familiar with Zimmerman's work and the farewell (Thursday's broadcast) is a strong tribute to Zimmerman's contributions.

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