Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Democracy Now: Private Warriors,Mukhtar Mai; Somerby on Downing St. Memo; Rothschild on Bully Boy's dive; Conniff interviews Barbar Boxer

Democracy Now! ("always worth watching" as Marcia says).  Note, check your local listings if you're interested in viewing the Frontline showing of "Private Warriors'" because is some areas, programming may be delayed by a few hours.  (And as Billie has repeatedly pointed out, her local PBS station often never shows things reviewed in, for instance, the New York Times.)  To check your listings you can go to PBS's home page, enter your zip to find out air time and date.
Headlines for June 21, 2005

- Democrats Block Bolton Again
- Another Politician Killed in Lebanon
- Judge Rules Posada Case Will Remain in Texas
-1964 Civil Rights Murder Case Goes to Jury
- Man Secretly Hired By CPB Chair Worked for Right-Wing Group
- Rally to Save Public Broadcasting
- House Passes Massive Spending Bill
- New Poll: Americans Against Iraq War
Private Warriors: New PBS Doc Questions Role of Military Contractors in Iraq

A new PBS documentary titled "Private Warriors," raises questions about the accountability of the private companies working in Iraq and the Pentagon's increasing reliance on them. We speak with the producer and correspondent, Martin Smith and Brookings Institution fellow, Peter Singer who is author of "Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry."
"I Will Go On Until I Have Even the Slightest Hope of Justice" - Rare Broadcast Interview With Pakistani Rape Survivor Mukhtar Mai

The Pakistani government is barring a woman from coming to the United States to speak out about her case and the plight of women's rights in Pakistan. She was gang-raped on orders by her local tribal counsel. We play a rare broadcast interview with Mukhtar Mai from her home in Pakistan and we speak with a Pakistani journalist who met with her in April.
At The Daily Howler, Bob Somerby is, as always, covering a great deal of ground.  We're going to focus on the Downing Street Memo for the excerpt:
It's hard to find a real discussion about those Downing Street memos. On Sunday, George Stephanopoulos asked Condi Rice to discuss the memos on This Week. ABC has now posted its transcript. Let's marvel as Rice, a flim-flam star, refuses to honor his request:
STEPHANOPOULOS (6/21/05): As you know, there's also been a lot of talk back here in the United States about these Downing Street memos, the minutes of a meeting with Prime Minister Tony Blair in the spring and summer of 2002 where they discussed their meetings with the United States. I want to show you what one mother, Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a U. S. soldier, had to say about that memo this week.

SHEEHAN (videotape): The so-called Downing Street memo, dated 23 July 2002, only confirms what I already suspected. The leadership of this country rushed us into an illegal invasion of another sovereign country on prefabricated and cherry-picked intelligence.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you respond to Mrs. Sheehan?

RICE: Well, I can only say what the president has said many, many times. The United States of America and its coalition decided that it was finally time to deal with the threat of Saddam Hussein. There had been multiple resolutions against Saddam Hussein and his activities, everything from concerns about his weapons of mass destruction programs and his continued unwillingness to answer the legitimate questions of the international system about those programs, his having used weapons of mass destruction in the past, everything concerning the way that he treated his own people--after all, we found more than 300,000 people in mass graves. You know, people are talking about, in the UN reform, a responsibility to protect? We happen to think that the Security Council is the place that that discussion ought to take place. When you consider what the Iraqi people had gone through in the Saddam Hussein regime's reign, what about the responsibility to the Iraqi people? We finally undertook an action that got rid of one of the worst dictators in modern times sitting in the center of the world's most troubled region and sitting here today in Jerusalem, I can tell you, George, that this region is far better for it and we now really have a chance to build a different kind of Middle East with a different Iraq in the center of it with potentially a Palestinian state that is democratic and with changes taking place all over this region that are democratizing that will be more stabilizing and that will bring greater security to the American people. Saddam Hussein is gone and that's a good thing.

"How do you respond to Mrs. Sheehan?" How else? By completely ignoring the question she raised! Go ahead. Try to find a single word that actually "responds to Mrs. Sheehan." Did our leadership rush us to war using “prefabricated and cherry-picked intelligence?” Rice wasn’t willing to discuss it this day. Instead, she ran a minute and 43 seconds off the clock with a rambling, prefabricated non-answer--"I can only say what the president has said"--and Stephanopoulos allowed her to do it. After her rambling filibuster came to its end, he politely asked Condi a whole different question (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/20/05). Lesson for the Bush Admin? When Stephanopoulos asks a question, there's no reason to answer it. None.

But so it goes when normal citizens question the Downing Street memos. Millionaire "journalists" mock their concerns--Michael Kinsley calls them "extremists" with "a paranoid theory," even as he says that everyone knew Bush was faking all along. And Rice won't even show them the courtesy of pretending to answer their questions. But this has long been Rice's approach. When she is challenged on serious questions, she takes big chunks of time off the clock and talks her way, smiling sweetly, to the end of the session. For this she's rewarded with icon status by the foppists now in charge of your "press."

So yes--for normal people, it's hard to come up with real information about those Downing Street memos. And that's a bad thing, because the memos raise questions which go straight to the heart of our struggling way of life. The original memo--dated 23 July 2002--comprises, as Stephanopoulos almost got right, “the minutes of a meeting with Prime Minister Tony Blair in the spring and summer of 2002.”

KeShawn e-mails to note Matthew Rothschild's latest "This Just In" entitled "The Bush Dam Breaks:"

The Bush dam is beginning to crumble.

The dam that defied opposition to the Iraq War.

The dam that kept Republicans from coming to their senses on Social Security.

The dam that held back critics of the USA Patriot Act.

It's no longer holding.

Bush's popularity is in the low forties, and may get to the freezing point soon.

And so his ability to keep getting away with "disassembling," as he would put it, is being washed away.

46 percent of Americans want U.S. troops to leave Iraq now.

Even Republicans are signing on to bills demanding a timeline for withdrawal.

Bush's puerile fantasy of destroying Social Security is all but shattered.

And he just lost a big one on the Patriot Act.

KeShawn also notes that Ruth Conniff has an interview with Barbara Boxer:

Q: You’ve just returned from Iraq. Did you see anything that made a deep impression on you?

Barbara Boxer: It’s a nightmare. We don’t understand the insurgency. It’s very deep, it’s very broad. We have no plan for success. And we need one. Bush said we’re there as long as necessary, and that is a message to the insurgents that we’re permanent occupiers. That just fuels the insurgency. So it’s a terrible circle. It just keeps going round and round.

Q: Do you think the U.S. should leave Iraq, or is it too difficult now?

Barbara Boxer: I think the U.S. should set a goal to be out of there within a year or two. If we don’t, I think it’s bad news all around. In all ways. First of all, the insurgency is fueled. Second of all, the Iraqi government is going to rely on us and not pay attention to the security that they are really responsible for. It’s very tough. But I’m telling you now, the status quo is as dangerous as it can be. My daughter’s friend Marla Ruzicka was killed there, an innocent victim, as she was helping innocent victims. And it just keeps going on and on. It’s such a tragedy. It just is God-awful. So I think we should amass a strategy for success, and set out the milestones. We need to help them get their democracy up and running, we’ve got to help them train their military and police and security people, and we’ve got to start moving out.

Q: What did Baghdad look like?

Barbara Boxer: We were not able to drive on the road. We flew over the city in Blackhawk helicopters with machine gunners on either side and decoy helicopters all around. It looks like a desolate, dusty place with palm trees. I don’t know how else to describe it.

Marci e-mails to highlight Miles Harvey's "James Weinstein: 1926-2005" (In These Times):
Another honor came just weeks before his death, when he received the prestigious Studs Terkel Award. Sponsored by the Chicago-based Community Media Workshop, the award celebrates members of the media who embody the Pulitzer Prize-winning author's devotion to democracy, justice and human values.

"Jim Weinstein was a shining example of a truly independent journalist," said Terkel. "In his own way, he was in the tradition of George Seldes and I.F. Stone and Lincoln Steffens--muckraking journalists who challenged the received wisdom. He always asked 'Why?' and 'Who is behind what?' and 'Where are the bodies buried?' More than ever, we need journalists such as Jim, who insisted that we must think things through, that we must remember the past in order to understand the present and prepare for the future."

Weinstein is survived by his wife of 15 years, Beth Maschinot; two children from an earlier marriage, Lisa Weinstein of Chicago and Joshua Weinstein of San Francisco; two grandchildren, Rachel Weinstein and Joseph Weinstein; and a sister, Lois Sontag of Stamford, Conn. Plans for a memorial service are pending. His wife requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to Literature for All of Us, a reading program in Evanston, Illinois.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

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