Thursday, June 30, 2005

NYT: There's no story bigger than Judy! and Jehl's left to mop up after Bumiller

In this morning's New York Times, Neil A. Lewis reports on spineless Democrats who refuse to speak plain truths. As Lewis notes at the end of the article ("Guantanamo Thorny Issue for Democrats on Committee"):

Former interrogators interviewed for a recent article in The New York Times have said that psychologists and psychiatrists, acting as behavioral scientists, advised them on how to use weaknesses, like a fear of the dark, to press detainees into cooperating. The New England Journal of Medicine reported last week that interviews with doctors who set up the interrogations at Guantanamo had used a model of increasing stress on detainees rather than establishing rapport to elicit information.
General Hood, in his testimony, said it was important to remember that the vast majority of Guantanamo detainees were "dangerous men committed to harming Americans."

To build on the last paragraph, it's important to remember that some of these "dangerous men" included children not yet eighteen. It's equally important to rember that we've detained and detained with no charges. They aren't protected by Geneva or by our own laws. They exist in a grey area and the people who should be protecting them, our Congress (which includes the disappointing Dems in this morning's article), would rather play "Who's da bigger Patriot? I am!" instead of doing their damn job.

Let's drop back to Democracy Now! February 1st report "EXCLUSIVE: British Human Rights Lawyer Gareth Peirce Says Torture 'Is the Recipe for the Destruction' of International Human Rights:"

A federal judge ruled Monday that the military tribunals set up by the Pentagon to determine the status of men and women held at Guantanamo Bay are unconstitutional in nature since they don't allow detainees access to lawyers or to evidence against them.
More than 540 men and women from 42 countries are still being held at Guntanamo. The judge wrote the war-on-terror cannot "negate the existence of the most basic fundamental rights for which the people of this country have fought and died for well over two hundred years."
The ruling comes a week after four British citizens were released without charge from Guantanamo after nearly 3 years in custody. They are now suing the US government for tens of millions of dollars in damages. The four are: Moazzam Begg, Feroz Abbasi, Martin Mubanga and Richard Belmar.
On Democracy Now!, we have covered these cases extensively, particularly that of Moazzam Begg. He was detained in Pakistan in 2001 and was imprisoned without charge or trial in Guanatanmo after being transferred there from a base in Afghanistan. For nearly two years, he had no contact with fellow prisoners, denied access to daylight and kept in seclusion
In a 25-page testimony written while in solitary confinement, Begg accuses the US of threatening his family, killing his fellow detainees and interrogating him more than 250 times. The testimony was obtained by the London Independent. Begg said his interrogation included being shackled and dragged, having a "suffocating hood" placed on his head and being struck on the head several times.
Gareth Peirce is the attorney for Moazzam Begg as well as Richard Belmar. Peirce is one of the leading human rights lawyers in Britian. She represented the Birmingham Six and Guilford Four as well as the three other British citizens released from Guantanamo last year known as the "Tipton Three". Actress Emma Thompson played her character in the movie "In the Name of the Father."
This past weekend, I was in England and Ireland as part of the international "Exception to the Rulers" book tour. I had the rare opportunity to sit down with Gareth Peirce in her home for an extended conversation.

Now let's note one section of the report (picked at random, Congressional Democrats should read the transcript in full):

AMY GOODMAN: No, that's fine. We're not sound bite radio. So we really appreciate a full explanation like this. What was Moazzam Begg charged with?
GARETH PEIRCE: Oh, he is not charged with anything. He was tortured, and brutalized in wholly unlawful conditions for three years. He was living with his family, not clandestinely, in Pakistan. He was unlawfully captured by Americans with British complicity, and with Pakistani complicity, and taken to Bagram in Afghanistan, where he was held for a year, as he said in the one letter that came out from there without having seen the sun or the moon or the stars for an entire year, and brutalized and degraded and humiliated, and then taken to Guantanamo, where he was the only person we know of- there may be others that we don't know of-- but the only person we know of who was in complete isolation for two years. That may be because he witnessed the murder of two detainees in Bagram Air Base. And, perhaps, to keep that deep, dark secret for as long as possible, he was not kept with the others. He was kept in Guantanamo, without any natural light, in a tiny cell area where even exercise was without access to any other detainees. It's astounding to me that he has retained his intellect and his ability to articulate as extraordinarily as he has. He, one has to say, is a person with enormous reserves of strength and spiritual resources.

This is what goes on in the facility that Duncan Hunter's so impressed with. Dick Durbin caves and all the others with collapsable spines quickly follow.

They need to be ashamed of themselves. They need to be ashamed that they won't speak the truth and, as members of Congress, they need to be ashamed that as much as the issue has been addressed, it's been addressed by the courts and not by them. I hope Duncan Hunter's remarks are noted and remembered because this is a historical stain on our nation and later on, decades from now, there should not be any, "Oh well he didn't know." He knew or he should have known. He didn't do his job. And he's not the only one. Congress should be ashamed of themselves. Our press should be ashamed that with the exception of a few brave reporters (Amy Goodman, Jane Mayer with The New Yorker, Raymond Bonner with the New York Times among the few), most didn't want to really get into the "nitty gritty" of what went on.

That's why the general can pipe off at the end of the story that these are dangerous men who are determined to hurt America (or whatever lame b.s. he offered). He knows he won't be called on it by the press and he knows most American are unaware of the realities regarding Guantanamo. He knows whatever spin he offers will make it into reports unchallenged. As Public Enemy might say, it takes two Houses of cowards to keep us down.

Eric Schmitt leaves an important detail out of his "For First Time in Months, Army Meets Its Recruiting Goal." (By the way the Shirley e-mailed to point out that the Times corrected one factual error in their obit on In These Times founder James Weinstein. It was one of the errors noted in the gina & krista round-robin; however, it was not the only factual error. They've apparently still not caught the other. For members who get the gina & krista round-robin, the letter they scanned in as an attachment is about the error they've still not caught.) What's the detail missing from Schmitt's article?

The detail is one Michael pointed out yesterday at his site (Mikey Likes It!):

Also know that the figures haven't been released and can't be proven right. And realize that in June, one month after high school graduations, the military would be expected to do better than usual.The figures can't be checked and we need to remember that. But when they do come out we need to remember that they dropped the numbers. This isn't "Oh June just topped January!"
They have lowered the monthly goal and still weren't able to keep it. Now they say they did.
And what month was that?
June when high schoolers have just graduated.
You got some kids who do want to join and are just waiting to graduate. You also have some kids who've been phoned and phoned all year and they're out of high school and there's not a lot of jobs in this economy, tuition has gone up, so what are some kids going to do? Sign up.
Let's wait for the figures and let's wait to see if they can do anything similar next month.

The point Michael makes (he makes many) that isn't in Schmitt's article is the fact that if June's target goal was met, that's not "great" news because they've lowered the target goals for enlistment after repeatedly failing to meet them.

As Michael did, Schmitt notes the fact that we're dealing with the summer season re: high schoolers. But equally important to the story (my opinion) they met their target (if they did -- and Schmitt rightly notes the figures have yet to be released) only after lowering it.

(In fairness to Schmitt, his is a short article and he may have included the detail, one that needs to be in the story because it gives perspective to what's being trumpeted. If he did, it was deleted from the story by someone other than Schmitt. Possibly due to Bill Keller's desire for shorter stories. Exactly how far will he go to turn the Times into USA Today?)

Adam Liptak again covers the "poor Judy" case. Liptak or "Liptak" (if someone else is responsible for it) creates a howler with his (or "his") use of "context:"

Eight days after Mr. Wilson's article was published, Robert D. Novak, the syndicated columnist, reported that "two senior administration officials" had told him that Mr. Wilson's wife, Ms. Plame, was "an agency operative on weapons of mass destruction."
Mr. Wilson has said the disclosure was payback for his criticism. Others have said that the disclosure put his criticism in context by suggesting that Mr. Wilson's trip was not a serious one but rather a nepotistic boondoggle.

Once again, laws broken by "administration officials" aren't the story. Valerie Plame's outing isn't the story. It's all about Judy though they tack on a little more about Matt Cooper. And rush, for balance, to offer what "others" (an apparently nameless group) "have said." (Yes, "others" have said that, "others" in the administartion among "others.") By the way, is Ted Olson on this case or not because the Times doesn't seem to know or else isn't keen on informing readers that he is. Perhaps he left the case?

From Editor & Publisher's Joe Strupp ("Supreme Court Will Not Hear Miller/Cooper Case"):

Ted Olson, the former U.S. Solicitor General who is handling Cooper's defense, said last week he was hopeful, claiming, "we've given them very, very good reasons."

I suppose he could have left the case since E&P reported that on Monday. I don't think it's very likely but I supposed it could have happened.

Here's something else not in the article (I'm copying and pasting from last night's entry):

Poynter's Romenesko has a letter ("Why not name Libby?" 6/28/2005 1:05:20 PM) [:]
From SUSAN STABLEY, reporter, South Florida Business Journal:
I don't understand why, in all the recent articles about Miller-Cooper-Novak and the Plame case, no one states the name of the leaker. The man who revealed the identity of an undercover CIA agent was I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, at least, according to Cooper.
Cooper was the speaker at the recent SPJ awards in South Florida. He told a room full of reporters that he revealed his source -- I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney -- after Libby released him from his obligation to protect his identity. The Washington Post reported the identity of Cooper's source -- I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney -- in August 2004. Cooper told us at the SPJ event that his current legal crisis had to do with a follow-up subpoena from investigators who were fishing for all his notes.[. . .]
Shouldn't that be in the Times' coverage?

Well, shouldn't it be? Especially when this statement is in today's reporting:

In an interview, Mr. Cooper expressed gratitude to his employer for fighting the case and said he hoped it would keep his secrets.

Is Susan Stabley mistaken? The Washington Post's article (by Carol D. Leonning) notes:

"Matt would have gone to jail if Libby didn't waive his right to confidentiality . . . and we would have fought all the way to the Supreme Court," said Time Managing Editor Jim Kelly. "Matt has been absolutely steadfast in his desire to protect anonymous sources."

(The Washington Post article makes no mention of remarks made at the SPJ awards.)

Not feeling the in-depth reporting this story has always required (but never gotten) is coming to us today.

The issue of the corporation (Time's) is brought up in regards to whether or not they'll turn over the Cooper's notes is brought up. There's back and forth in the article, so let's provide context.
If history is any guide, Time Warner et al will not take a brave stand for the First Amendment in the face of a court order. They didn't require a court order to drop Ice-T's "Cop Killer" back in the nineties. (In one of the more idiotic business decisions, my opinion, the syngery conglomerate that can't get anything right cut off Warner Music. They no longer own it. However, it was owned in the nineties and it was the parent company bringing heat on the music division to dump "Cop Killer.") In addition Jimmy Iovine's skirmishes with Time Warner in the mid-nineties also indicate that free speech is not an issue near and dear to the whatever facsimile of a heart the corporation possesses.

"Context" (to use the article's term) would indicate that there's not much chance Time will stand strong in support of the First Amendment. But informing readers of that historical "context" might prevent a "JUDY STANDS ALONE!" shocker in the coming days if/when Time does cave.

Douglas Jehl's handed the mop and told to clean up after Bumiller's print accident yesterday. Had Elisabeth Bumiller done the basic job of reporting he might not have such a big mess to clean up. For those who missed one of the points I was making yesterday (and must have failed on this for some) Bumiller's reliance (repeatedly) on "friends say" was a problem. A problem the Times' own recent panel identified and one that was supposed to have been addressed. If that's still not clear to anyone, singing the praises of someone doesn't require for anyone to go on "background" or "unnamed." Bumiller wasted time and space with "friends say" which falls into a category that the paper has repeatedly stated they are moving away from. Someone send the memo to Bumiller.

Jehl's "Bush to Create New Unit in F.B.I. for Intelligence" has a lot of ground to cover because Bumiller, the Elite Fluff Patrol squad leader, turned in a puff piece when she should have been doing some real reporting.

There's no excerpt to Jehl's piece because he's been left (by Bumiller) with the task of explaining what's going on, what it means and where Congress will come in. (Among other things.) (It's like trying to choose an excerpt from one of Bob Somerby's entries at The Daily Howler, it's all too important to just choose one section.)

Hopefully, the Times will address what these proposals mean point by point.

At Molly's request, we'll note David E. Sanger's "Troops' Silence at Fort Bragg Starts a Debate All Its Own:"

So what happened to the applause?
When President Bush visits military bases, he invariably receives a foot-stomping, loud ovation at every applause line. At bases like Fort Bragg - the backdrop for his Tuesday night speech on Iraq - the clapping is often interspersed with calls of "Hoo-ah," the military's all-purpose, spirited response to, well, almost anything.

[. . .]
While the White House tried to explain the silence, Democrats were critical of Mr. Bush's use of the Sept. 11 attacks - comparing it to the administration's argument, before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, that Saddam Hussein had links to Al Qaeda. The independent commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks found no evidence of "a collaborative operational relationship" between Iraq and Osama bin Laden's organization.

Molly did the excerpts above (from the Sanger article) in her e-mail.

The e-mail for this address is

[Note: This post has been corrected to add "of" to a sentence. "Had Elisabeth Bumiller done the basic job of reporting . . ."]