Thursday, July 14, 2005

Democracy Now: Dahr Jamail, Rainbow Warrior; Norman Solomon, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Bob Somerby, Margaret Kimberly, Bill Scher ...

General at Gitmo Was Also Key Figure Abu Ghraib
But reports are now emerging that that commander, Major General Geoffrey Miller, is linked to the abuse at both Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. The Washington Post reports that months before the world learned of the abuse and torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, interrogators at Guantanamo forced a prisoner to wear women's underwear on his head, confronted him with snarling military working dogs and attached a leash to his chains. The paper cites the newly released military investigation. The techniques were approved by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for use in interrogating Mohamed Qahtani -- the alleged "20th 9/11 hijacker" as part of a special interrogation plan aimed at breaking down the silent detainee. The Post says that the report's findings are the strongest indication yet that the abuse seen in photographs at Abu Ghraib were not the invention of a small group of thrill-seeking military police officers. The report shows that they were used several months before the United States invaded Iraq. The investigation also supports the idea that soldiers believed that placing hoods on detainees, forcing them to appear nude in front of women and sexually humiliating them were approved interrogation techniques for use on detainees. Major General Geoffrey Miller commanded the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and later helped set up U.S. operations at Abu Ghraib. Miller traveled to Iraq in September 2003 to assist in Abu Ghraib's startup, and he later sent in "Tiger Teams" of Guantanamo Bay interrogators and analysts as advisers and trainers. Within weeks of his departure from Abu Ghraib, military working dogs were being used in interrogations, and naked detainees were humiliated and abused by military police soldiers working the night shift. Miller would have been the highest-ranking officer to face discipline for detainee abuses so far, but Gen. Bantz Craddock, head of the U.S. Southern Command, declined to follow the recommendation.
GOP Releases 'Talking Points' to Attack Joe Wilson
Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlman has been circulating pages of so-called talking points on the scandal that focus on attempting to discredit Ambassador Joe Wilson, the husband of the outed CIA operative. The talking points instruct GOP operatives to attack Wilson's credibility and his fact-finding mission to Niger, in which Wilson found that there was no evidence Iraq had attempted to import uranium from the African nation. Wilson has long charged that his wife was outed in retaliation for his debunking of one of the administration's key justifications for the invasion of Iraq.
The two items above, from Democracy Now!, were picked by Dominick and CedricDemocracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says):
Headlines for July 14, 2005

- The London Bombings: One Week Later
- British Expand Investigation
- Bush Refuses to Comment on Rove's Role in CIA Outing
- Dems Call on Bush to Strip Rove's Security Clearance
- GOP Releases 'Talking Points' to Attack Joe Wilson
- Rep. Peter King Says Tim Russert Should Be 'Shot'
- Islamic Scholar Sentenced to Life in Prison
- WorldCom Chief Gets 25 Years
 Dahr Jamail on Iraqi Hospitals Under Occupation, War Profiteering and the "Brain Drain" Out of Iraq

As dozens of people are killed in suicide bombings and attacks in Iraq, we speak with independent journalist Dahr Jamail about his new report, "Iraqi Hospitals Ailing Under Occupation," the "brain drain" out of Iraq and the difference in the media's coverage of the repeated attacks in Iraq and last week's London bombings.
Human Rights on the Border: A Debate on Undocumented Migration in Arizona

Unauthorized patrol groups like the Minutemen are raising questions of who polices the U.S.-Mexico border. A new wave of anti-immigrant advocates in the Southwest and in Washington want a crackdown on undocumented migration. But the U.S. economy depends on migrant workers and migrants depend on U.S. jobs to support their families in Mexico and Central America. We host a debate on immigration.
Remembering Rainbow Warrior: How French President Mitterrand Personally Approved the Attack on Greenpeace 20 Years Ago

Twenty years ago, the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior was bombed by French government agents and sunk in a harbor in Auckland, New Zealand. The French newspaper Le Monde recently revealed that the late French President Francois Mitterrand personally approved the sinking of the ship. We speak with David Robie, an independent journalist who was on board the ship and wrote the book "Eyes of Fire: The Last Voyage of the Rainbow Warrior."
As noted yesterday Dahr Jamail's speaking in New York this evening:
July 14, 2005
New York City, New York

Join Norman Solomon, Dahr Jamail & FAIR
Date: Thursday July 14, 2005.
Reception 6:30 pm event begins at 7:30 pm
Location: The Brecht Forum - 451 West Street
New York City, New York
Directions: Between Bethune & Bank Streets
More information about this event
Norman Solomon (at the event tonight with Jamail and FAIR) has a piece in CounterPunch (an excerpt from Solomon's latest book, actually, and CounterPunch has been offering excerpts):
For the most powerful war-makers in Washington, the most dangerous potential enemies are the citizens of the United States who might insist on an end to taxpayer subsidies for mass slaughter. To forestall such a calamity, officials proclaim endlessly that the war's worst days have passed and the future looks increasingly bright for the ravaged land and for the freedom-loving invaders whose invasion has ravaged it.

And so, on Tuesday night, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff glibly responded to questions from Jim Lehrer on the PBS "NewsHour." And while the historic disrepute of the phrase "light at the end of the tunnel" precluded using it in the interview, Gen. Richard Myers was close to chirpy. Along the way, he tried to make the war in Iraq sound like an uplifting exercise in civic engagement, inevitably headed toward triumph.

The general was tap dancing in the footsteps of many who came before him -- during another long war based on deception and the assumption that the USA must keep killing in order to be credible on the world stage. When Defense Secretary Robert McNamara visited Vietnam for the first time, he came back and told the press that he'd seen "nothing but progress and hopeful indications of further progress in the future." McNamara made that statement in May 1962.

More than four years later, in October 1966, McNamara held a news conference at Andrews Air Force Base after returning from a trip to Vietnam. Again he spoke with enthusiasm about the progress he'd seen there. But former Pentagon aide Daniel Ellsberg has recounted that McNamara made that presentation to the press "minutes after telling me that everything was much worse than the year before."

Norman Solomon's book is entitled War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.  Reminder:

July 14, 2005
New York City, New York

Join Norman Solomon, Dahr Jamail & FAIR
Date: Thursday July 14, 2005.
Reception 6:30 pm event begins at 7:30 pm
Location: The Brecht Forum - 451 West Street
New York City, New York
Directions: Between Bethune & Bank Streets
More information about this event

And let's note FAIR, in fact, let's note a piece by Norman Solomon:
In the aftermath of 9/11, writer Joan Didion critiqued “the wearying enthusiasm for excoriating anyone who suggested that it could be useful to bring at least a minimal degree of historical reference to bear on the event.” Overwhelmingly, politicians and pundits were quick to get in a groove of condemning any sensible assertions “that events have histories, political life has consequences, and the people who led this country and the people who wrote and spoke about the way this country was led were guilty of trying to infantilize its citizens if they continued to pretend otherwise.”

Voices of reason, even when they’ve come from within the country’s military establishment, have been shunted aside. In late November 2002, a retired U.S. Army general, William Odom, told C-SPAN viewers: “Terrorism is not an enemy. It cannot be defeated. It’s a tactic. It’s about as sensible to say we declare war on night attacks and expect we’re going to win that war. We’re not going to win the war on terrorism. And it does whip up fear. Acts of terror have never brought down liberal democracies. Acts of parliament have closed a few.”

Two years after 9/11, Norman Mailer asked: “What does it profit us if we gain extreme security and lose our democracy? Not everyone in Iraq, after all, was getting their hands and/or their ears cut off by Saddam Hussein. In the middle of that society were hordes of Iraqis who had all the security they needed even if there was no freedom other than the full-fledged liberty offered by dictators to be free to speak with hyperbolic hosannas for the leader. So, yes, there are more important things to safeguard than security and one of them is to protect the much-beleaguered integrity of our democracy. The final question in these matters suggests itself. Can leaders who lie as a way of life protect any way of life?”

The president who lied his way into an invasion of Iraq is now exploiting Thursday’s atrocities in London to justify U.S. policies that are bringing daily atrocities to Iraq. Bush is intent on sending a message to “the terrorists” by continuing the Pentagon’s war effort.

The idea of communicating by killing is very familiar. There’s nothing new about claiming to send a righteous message with bullets and bombs.
Guess what?  The above?  Another excerpt from War Made Easy.  You can read more excerpts at the site for War Made Easy.There are many links there if you're interested in purchasing the book.  Or you could pick up a copy, if you're in the New York City area tonight:
July 14, 2005
New York City, New York

Join Norman Solomon, Dahr Jamail & FAIR
Date: Thursday July 14, 2005.
Reception 6:30 pm event begins at 7:30 pm
Location: The Brecht Forum - 451 West Street
New York City, New York
Directions: Between Bethune & Bank Streets
More information about this event
We normally note The Daily Howler  right after Democracy Now!  but the latest isn't up.  If it's up before this is sent, we'll note (and note it gladly). 
Keesha e-mails to note Margaret Kimberly's latest at The Black Commentator entitled "British Treated Like Iraqis:"
 What if what is a "win" to the terrorist is what is right? Do we refuse to comply simply because the terrorist has acted? It's a difficult question. In this case, the terrorists, or at least those who have claimed responsibility, have said the bombings are in retaliation for Britain's role in the occupation of Iraq. If you are a Briton, do you believe in the Iraq war? Do you believe in Britain's continued part in the occupation?

Crises bring fear and anxiety but they also bring clarity and reveal what we should already know to be true. The bombings of the London transit system are proof of a very simple, very clear reality. The Arab and Muslim world hates the U.S. and Britain for occupying Iraq.

They don't hate our freedoms. They don't hate our way of life. They hate our governments and they hate the terror they have inflicted on thousands of Iraqis.

The responses from the American and British governments were all too pat and predictable. We have been exhorted to "stay the course," "show resolve," and above all else "not allow the terrorists to win." The British are not encased in the American bubble of ignorance and may show their resolve by kicking Tony Blair to the curb. Hope springs eternal.

The clarity brought home to London is simple. The war on terror is a war of terror that keeps no one safe. It certainly didn't help the thousands killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and it didn't help anyone during the morning rush hour in London. A war on terror, whether it means military occupation, an increased defense budget, or taxpayer dollars doled out to Halliburton, doesn't stop anyone from bringing a bomb on to a bus.

The people of London deserve to go about their daily lives without fear of being blown to bits, but so do the people of Baghdad and Fallujah.

Tiffany notes the latest from Bill Scher (Liberal Oasis):
Yesterday, LiberalOasis discussed how Rove may have violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, the law that most are focused on.

But there are other laws Rove may have broken.

Mark A.R. Kleiman suggests it’s more likely Rove may have violated the Espionage Act and also the law against “making false statements to officials.”

On CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight, John Dean suggested Rove may have violated laws against “converting government information to his own political uses” and “conspiring with others to do what he's not being paid as a government employee to do.”

Dobbs summarized his comments by saying, “Effectively, fraud and conspiracy.”

Dean also speculated about violating the Espionage Act in a 2003 FindLaw piece (hat tip to one of LO’s lawyer readers.)

Of course, most of this speculation is based on what little info about the case has been leaked to the public. This likely goes far deeper than what we know was communicated between Rove and Cooper.

Wally e-mails to note Pirate Smile's post at Democratic Underground ("Plame has worked undercover within the past 5 years according to the WP") where Pirate Smile draws our attention to an October 4, 2003 Washington Post article entitled "Leak of Agent's Name Causes Exposure of CIA Front Firm" (by Walter Pincus and Mike Allen):

After the name of the company was broadcast yesterday, administration officials confirmed that it was a CIA front. They said the obscure and possibly defunct firm was listed as Plame's employer on her W-2 tax forms in 1999 when she was working undercover for the CIA. Plame's name was first published July 14 in a newspaper column by Robert D. Novak that quoted two senior administration officials. They were critical of her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, for his handling of a CIA mission that undercut President Bush's claim that Iraq had sought uranium from the African nation of Niger for possible use in developing nuclear weapons.

A former diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity said yesterday that every foreign intelligence service would run Plame's name through its databases within hours of its publication to determine if she had visited their country and to reconstruct her activities.

"That's why the agency is so sensitive about just publishing her name," the former diplomat said.

Lloyd steers us to Katrina vanden Heuvel's latest "The Gender Gap:"

Twenty-five years after the gender gap first appeared as a factor in American politics, it's worth reflecting on whether as some in the GOP said after last November's election the gap has shrunk to the vanishing point.

Let's be clear: The gender gap didn't disappear in 2004, but it diminished significantly. John Kerry narrowly won the women's vote last year when he defeated Bush by a margin of 51 percent to 48 percent. Contrast this to the 2000 presidential election, in which Al Gore ended up with an 11-point margin over Bush among women voters.

Which begs the question: Is the gender gap a thing of the past? The short answer is a resounding "no."

Two recent polls show that women voters are, if anything, turning away from the GOP--and that the Democrats have an opportunity to expand the gender gap and win back those women voters and more in the 2006 mid-term elections and beyond.

The first poll, a Democratic survey that was done by Lake Snell Perry Mermin & Associates Inc. this spring, revealed, as reported in the Washington Post, that "the public's agenda has shifted from homeland security and terrorism to domestic concerns such as jobs and the economy." In 2004, Bush used fear to score points with voters. But, while Karl Rove and Bush are still stoking the fears that Democrats can't be trusted to prevent terrorism, their message is no longer resonating in quite the same way. The London bombings may bring about a short-term shift in women's attitudes, but strong signs suggest that doubts about Bush's security policies are growing.

"Women, if left to their own devices, are going to tend and trend Democratic," the GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway explained to the Washington Post's Brian Faler. "...Women are still congenitally Democratic, and I'm the Republican pollster saying that."

For more on the polling and to read vanden Heuvel's tribute to Judy Mann use the link.
Also see Celinda Lake's "The Polls Speak: Americans Support Abortion" (yes, we linked to it the Friday before the fourth but I think it's worth linking to again):
Despite what anti-abortion activists and politicians would have you believe, the majority of Americans continue to support a woman's right to a legal abortion -- as they have done consistently for the past 15 years. Polls show that those who strive to abolish a woman's right to the full range of family-planning services are fundamentally out of step with American opinion. Here's a sampling:

Voters self-identify as "pro-choice" over "pro-life" by a double-digit margin.
In 2004, 52 percent of voters identified themselves as pro-choice, 41 percent pro-life, according to Gallup Poll trend data. Although the margins have fluctuated slightly, the pro-choice position has remained dominant since 1996, and in the past four years there has been very little change in public opinion.

Americans strongly wish to keep abortion legal.
A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 56 percent of respondents nationwide favored keeping abortion legal in all or most cases. The survey of 1,082 adults, conducted in April 2005, showed that only 14 percent of those surveyed wanted to keep abortion illegal in all cases, with another 27 percent wanting most cases to be illegal.
And Bob Somerby's latest Daily Howler has just gone up.  Here's an excerpt (Somerby, "always worth reading," says C.I.):
THEY SHALL NOT BE RELEASED: On July 7, the Washington Post ran a Q & A column about the Plame case. One item revealed a significant fact--a fact that had rarely been discussed:
Doesn't Fitzgerald know the identities of Miller's and Cooper's sources? Haven't the sources signed waivers that allow the reporters to talk to the prosecutor?

Yes and yes. But Miller, who did some reporting but never wrote a story, says that the waiver is not voluntary under these circumstances and that she is upholding the journalistic principle of never breaking a promise of confidentiality to a source....

Yes--and yes? According to the Post, the reporters' sources--"sources," in the plural--had signed waivers allowing reporters to talk! This surprising fact, which is now widely known, was almost never discussed until this month, except in the case of Cheney aide Scooter Libby. Last fall, several reporters testified about their conversations with Libby, and it was widely noted that they did so because of the waiver Libby had signed. But until this month, big new orgs almost never reported the fact that other sources had signed these waivers. This week, we learn that Karl Rove signed such a waiver "in December 2003 or January 2004," according to his lawyer, Robert Luskin. We can find no place in the Post or the Times where this fact was disclosed before that.

Why wasn't this salient fact ever mentioned? We can't say for sure, but to get an idea, let's go back to February 2004. On February 10, the Post's Mike Allen reported that prosecutors had been seeking such waivers--and that some Bush aides were refusing to sign:

ALLEN (2/10/04): News organizations typically resist subpoenas or other methods of obtaining information about confidential sources. In the Plame case, prosecutors have tried to overcome that obstacle by asking several White House officials to sign waivers requesting "that no member of the news media assert any privilege or refuse to answer any questions from federal law enforcement authorities on my behalf or for my benefit."

The sources said most officials declined to sign the form on the advice of their attorneys. "It would just be helping the government to put more pressure on journalists to reveal sources," one of the lawyers said.

According to Allen, prosecutors had tried to get waivers from White House officials--and "most officials had declined to sign." But this appeared deep in Allen’s report, and generated no wider discussion.

Interesting, isn't it? According to the Washington Post, Bush officials were refusing to cooperate with the legal probe. You'd think this would create wider discussion, bit the rest of the press corps stood silent. And four days later, legal journalist Stuart Taylor explained why the press corps was taking this pass. Taylor, a major DC insider, wrote in the National Journal. And uh-oh! He said the press corps was--what else?--pursuing its own self-interest:

TAYLOR (2/14/04): The media's self-interested approach to such issues may explain the remarkably muted reaction to a February 10 Washington Post report that several White House officials have refused requests by prosecutors that they sign waivers releasing reporters from any promises of confidentiality to their sources in this case. The waiver forms reportedly request "that no member of the news media assert any privilege or refuse to answer any questions from federal law enforcement authorities on my behalf or for my benefit."

Why haven't the media--which have long clamored for Bush to order his aides to cooperate fully with prosecutors--made a stink about his apparent failure to order them to sign these waivers? The answer seems to be that the media understand that such waivers would increase the pressure on them to disclose their sources.

Taylor closed his piece by requesting "a more forceful effort by Bush to get his staff to come clean." But according to Taylor, a major insider, why weren't his colleagues in the press talking about this failure by Bush? What explained their "remarkably muted reaction" to that February 10 report? Yes, the report was news, Taylor said--but the press was taking a "self-interested approach!" In Taylor's view, the media understood that such waivers “would increase the pressure on them to disclose their sources." And because they didn't want to do that (more below), they were hushing the topic.
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