Monday, July 18, 2005

Democracy Now: Patrick Cockburn, Life Under Occupation; Bob Somerby, Ruth Connif

London Bombings Linked to Iraq Policy, Says Leading UK Group
As the British government continues its massive investigation into this month's coordinated London bomb attacks, one of Britain's most respected foreign policy thinktanks is challenging Prime Minister Tony Blair's claim that the bombings were not a result of British involvement in the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. A new report by the Chatham House organization said the key problem in the UK for preventing terrorism is that the country is "riding as a pillion passenger with the United States in the war against terror". The group is made up of leading academics and former government officials. On Saturday, Tony Blair said the bombers were driven by what he called an "evil ideology" rather than opposition to any policy. Blair called suggestions to the contrary a "misunderstanding of a catastrophic order." But in its report, Chatham House concludes there is "no doubt" the invasion of Iraq has "given a boost to the al-Qaida network" in "propaganda, recruitment and fundraising", while providing an ideal targeting and training area for terrorists. It goes on "Riding pillion with a powerful ally has proved costly in terms of British and US military lives, Iraqi lives, military expenditure and the damage caused to the counter-terrorism campaign."
Israel Prepares For Invasion of Gaza
Israel has massed thousands of troops along the border of the Gaza Strip and is threatening to invade unless the Palestinian Authority acts to prevent the firing of missiles at Israeli towns. Israeli Prime Minister General Ariel Sharon has instructed his military forces to show no restraint. In Gaza, residents were preparing for Israeli military action, speculating that it might begin when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, leaves after a short visit this week. Israel stopped all movement between the north, center and south of Gaza and prevented men between the ages of 18 and 35 from crossing the border into Egypt. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who is in Gaza, made a televised speech over the weekend in which he reiterated his call for a single authority and a single armed force for Palestinians. Abbas said an Israeli invasion would "sabotage everything."
The above items are Headlines from Democracy Now! and they were selected by Gareth and RobDemocracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says):
Headlines for July 18, 2005

- Iraq Bombing Kills Twice as many as London Attack
- New Studies Show Fighters in Iraq Radicalized by US Policy
- Moqtada al Sadr Speaks: ‘Resistance is Legitimate’
- Sy Hersh Charges Bush Admin Interfered in Iraq Elecs
- Israel Prepares For Invasion of Gaza
- London Bombings Linked to Iraq Policy, Says Leading UK Group
- Rove Watch: Time’s Cooper Speaks About Grand Jury Testimony
- Former British PM Heath Dies
Over 150 Dead in Iraq in One of Deadliest Weekends Since U.S. Invasion

This weekend marked one of the deadliest in Iraq since the U.S. invasion began more than two years ago. In three days of suicide attacks, more than 150 people have been killed with nearly 300 wounded. We go to Baghdad to speak with Patrick Cockburn of the London Independent. [includes rush transcript]
Three Women, Palestinian Christian, Muslim and Israeli Jew on Life Under Occupation

As Israel prepares for a possible ground offensive in Gaza and Hamas says it will halt attacks, we speak with three women: Dr. Jumana Odeh, a Muslim Palestinian who lives in Jerusalem and is the Director of the Palestinian Happy Child Center; Michal Sagi, a Jewish Israeli who is active with Checkpoint Watch, a women's human rights monitoring group and Rana Khoury, a Christian Palestinian who is Deputy General Director of the International Center of Bethlehem.
Before we move on, Jonah e-mails to note Democracy Now! was longer than that on WBAI.  An additional hour was devoted to the World Tribunal on Iraq. WBAI is a Pacifica radio station out of New York.  While most members are familiar with NPR's pledge drives, Jonah wondered if they were familiar with Pacifica'sPacifica is public radio, it does depend upon listeners' contributions.  If you go to the schedule for tomorrow, you'll see that Democracy Now! will be an additional hour for WBAI listeners.  If you're in the NYC area or if you're able to listen online, tune in tomorrow at nine am eastern time for two hours of Democracy Now!  Jonah says the second hour was testimonies from the World Tribunal on Iraq (and notes he heard Barbara Olshansky among the testimonials today).  The World Tribunal on Iraq didn't get a great deal of attention in most places.  One of the few places it was covered was Pacifica and Democracy Now! so if you've got the money to spare, remember who brings you reality and who doesn't.
Support independent media if you're fortunate enough to have something spare.  Independent media includes Democracy Now!, Pacifica, BuzzFlash, Dahr Jamail and a host of others -- if someone speaks to you and you have the money to spare, let them know you support their work.  And it also includes periodicals such as The Progressive, In These Times, Clamor, LeftTurn, Ms., The Nation, Yes!CounterPunch and a host of others.  (It also includes bloggers.  If there's a blogger or site whose work you enjoy and they accept PayPal donations or some other form, you're contributing to independent media.  Note: That's not a request for money on my part in case any visitor is confused.  I'm fine and have never requested money.  However, others aren't as fortunate and if a site you visit accepts donations, consider showing your support for the work by making one.  Also note, no community bloggers accept donations.  I'm speaking of other sites.)
Now there was a Saturday Daily Howler.  There were apparently posting problems, but let's start by noting Bob Somerby's Saturday Howler where he's addressing Jim Lehrer's cat nap while the BoBo and the Bore wrangle (that would be David Brooks and Mark Shields):
BROOKS (continuing directly): I mean Wilson is questionable on all these issues. You said earlier that Wilson issued a report saying Iraq did not try to buy weapons. That’s not what the report said. We have a Senate investigating committee. We have in Britain the Butler committee. Both of them concluded from Wilson’s own report that the Iraqis were trying to buy weapons. But what we’re doing is getting out of the reality and into all this realm of speculation.
Well--we're definitely "getting out of the reality." In Great Britain, the Butler commission did find, in July 2004, that Bush's famous 16-word claim was, in fact, "well-founded." But they certainly didn't reach that conclusion "from Wilson’s own report;" they were evaluating pre-war British intelligence, not any claims Wilson made. Brooks was wildly stretching again. And again, Lehrer gazed into air.

But in the current news environment, both sides get to massage the facts, with the endless acquiescence of distracted big-name hosts. Mark Shields jumped in at this point--and he too issued a howler:

SHIELDS (continuing directly): David, the CIA, the administration, has said the 16 words in the State of the Union were wrong. That’s what it--that's what the whole thing was about.
But the CIA didn't say the 16 words were wrong. In his July 12, 2003 speech on the matter, George Tenet said the 16 words should not have been included in Bush's speech because the claim "did not rise to the level of certainty which should be required for presidential speeches."
It should be noted that on The NewsHour David BoBo Brooks can actually be referred to as "Young Mr. Brooks."  David Gergen gives way to Paul Gigot gives way to BoBo (with Willie Safire seated on the bench ready to fill in whenever someone sprains a jaw bone). Why Shields is still there, I don't know.  But the installation of BoBo Brooks appears to have an unstated message: as aging pundits move to the boneyard, The NewsHour is committed to replacing them with more white males.  Maybe we're all just supposed to be happy that Margaret Warner gets to sit in the anchor chair when Jim's got a night off?  And when Lehrer leaves, will PBS be the first to give us a permanent, solo, female anchor?  Or will it serve up more of the same?
Think on that as we move on to The Daily Howler for Monday.  Dallas picked the excerpt (thank you, Dallas) and if there's a theme to Monday's Howler, it's what is accepted fact and are we bending them?  Somerby's not pleased with what he's seeing on the political discussion landscape:
Throughout his column, Krugman complained about the politicization of facts by conservative partisans. And he noted some of the ways this has been seen in the case of Wilson and Rove. "One after another, prominent Republicans and conservative pundits have declared their allegiance to the party line," he said. "They haven't just gone along with the diversionary tactics, like the irrelevant questions about whether Mr. Rove used Valerie Wilson's name in identifying her...or the false, easily refuted claim that Mr. Wilson lied about who sent him to Niger. They're now a chorus, praising Mr. Rove as a patriotic whistle-blower."

No question -- conservatives pundits recited bogus claims last week, as they’ve done for years and years. But today we ask a further question -- is a similar habit of thought developing now on the left? Over the weekend, we were especially surprised -- no, we were shocked -- by a particular Josh Marshall post. Quite rightly, Josh is a prime liberal leader; for that reason, we’re especially troubled when we start to think that Josh's work might be helping produce “a country in which there is no longer such a thing as nonpolitical truth.”

We refer to this Saturday post by Josh, which attempts to explain (away) an obvious mistake Joe Wilson made all through 2003. Throughout that year, Wilson insisted that Dick Cheney had surely seen an official report about his trip to Niger. He was “absolutely convinced” of this, Wilson said on Meet the Press the day his New York Times op-ed appeared. Throughout the year, Wilson battered Cheney for daring to say that he hadn’t seen such a report. By now, pretty much everyone, including Wilson, agrees that no such report went to Cheney’s office. In his post, Marshall was explaining (away) Wilson’s mistake.

Because remember-- in the America Krugman described, your side can never be wrong about anything; your side can't make a mistake. "There is no longer such a thing as nonpolitical truth," Krugman complained; indeed, "the faithful will follow the twists and turns of the party line with a loyalty that would have pleased the Comintern." We think it would be a tragic mistake for liberals to begin behaving this way -- but we were forced to think of Krugman's description when Marshall explained (away) Wilson's error.

Why did Wilson turn out to be wrong on this matter? Why didn't the CIA send a report about his trip to Cheney's office? Marshall asked this question in his post, saying "this actually is a relevant fact in understanding the story." Then he gave the following answer -- an answer which really did shock us:

MARSHALL (7/16/05): The explanation confected by the authors of the SSCI [Senate Select Committee on Intelligence] report was the rather contradictory one that either Wilson's trip generated no substantive information or that it in fact tended to confirm suspicions of an illicit uranium traffic between the two countries. No one who's looked at the evidence involved believes that. Nor is that cover story compatible with the CIA's subsequent and repeated attempts to prevent the White House from using the Niger story.
Why didn't the CIA send a report? We'll summarize Marshall's full answer below. But according to Marshall, the authors of last summer's SSCI report "confected" a "cover story" when confronted with that question. Just how fake was their "cover story?" This fake: "No one who's looked at the evidence" believes at least one part of their story! Josh goes on to explain his claim further (see below), but that's his claim about the Senate report. And that's the claim that we found shocking-- and the claim that recalled Krugman's piece.
Lloyd e-mails to note Ruth Conniff's "High Hopes for the Court:"

Last Thursday afternoon Ted Kennedy met with a handful of journalists in his Capitol "hideaway" office to talk about Bush's coming pick (or picks) for the Supreme Court. With Chief Justice Rehnquist lying in a hospital bed, and House Democrat Chuck Schumer holding a simultaneous press conference downstairs to call on the White House to revoke Karl Rove's security clearance, there was a mood of political shake-up in the humid Washington air.

Kennedy declared that there is "increasingly a sense of hope and anticipation that there will be a unifying candidate" when Bush makes his decision--that is, the sort of conservative justice who is more interested in upholding the Constitution than trying to enforce a rightwing activist agenda on the nation.

How can Democrats and concerned citizens help bring about this dream of a moderate Justice, I asked. "I don't think it's very hard," Kennedy said. "Several of the names mentioned by Democrats [when they met with the President] were Republicans--people who would certainly fall in that category."

"The American people don't want to go backwards on civil rights, civil liberties, workplace rights," Kennedy pointed out. The majority of the country is not inclined to be dictated to by the likes of James Dobson. "Hopefully the administration can resist the extreme elements of its own party."

The above is an excerpt click to read more.

Liang e-mails to steer us towards Lisa Sousa's "A Different Duty:"

I don't like doing this. It's not something I want to do," says Aidan Delgado of his public presentations. "I feel like I have to do it."

A veteran of the Iraq war, Delgado, 23, has spoken to students, churches and peace groups across the country. "The media's not giving the full picture," he says. "Nobody's seeing the ugly side, the underside of the war, and it's something that I've seen, so I feel like I have to share it with people."

In March, Delgado participated in a daylong teach-in on military recruitment at Berkeley High School in California. Students and concerned teachers organized the event in response to the increased presence of recruiters, who are able to target high school students like never before, thanks to Section 9528 of the No Child Left Behind Act. "There's a lot about being in the army that recruiters are not going to tell you," Delgado says.

Elaine e-mails to note Christine's latest at Ms. Musing:
Shannon Woolley, a 31-year-old playwright and artistic director of Looking for Lilith theater company, was awarded $2,500 through the Kentucky Foundation for Women's annual Art Meets Activism grants to "create a one-woman play based on the oral histories of American women in the military serving in Iraq," reports the Courier-Journal.

The working title is "Women Speak: Iraq." Woolley hopes to include female veterans, civilians and Iraqi-American women in the play.

"Part of what draws me to this is our proximity to Fort Knox," Woolley said. "It's a very important time in our history. For the first time, women really are on the front line."

Anyone interested in possibly being interviewed by Wooley can e-mail her at

Established in 1985 by Louisville writer Sallie Bingham, the Kentucky Foundation for Women's mission is to "promote positive social change through varied feminist expression in the arts." Each year, the KFW awards $200,000 to feminist artists and activist organizations through two grant programs: Artist Enrichment and Art Meets Activism.

Zach e-mails to note Katrina vanden Heuvel's "Debunking the Spin About Framing:" 

On another level, Bai's essay is also a profile of "the father of framing"--George Lakoff. (Others who've toiled long in the "framing" fields sent out e-mails on Sunday, ticked off that Bai made Lakoff out to be the guru of the field, ignoring the serious work of other "framers.")

Bai's piece will be familiar to progressives who've been arguing for years that individual issues must be tied together by some larger (preferably moral) frame that articulates a vision and speaks to the kind of country we want to live in. But Bai does raise some legitimate questions: Is the Dems' problem bigger than a battle of language? Maybe the focus needs to be on the battle of ideas?

My problem is with the article's snarky reductionism; in the end, Bai suggests, the Dem's framing is really all about spin, or weird and wonky linguistic theories. But what about the fact that there is a a real science involved in framing? And isn't there a very real connection between language and ideas.

Francisco steers us to David Stout's breaking story at the New York Times entitled "In Shift, Bush Says He'll Fire Aides Who 'Committed a Crime:'"
President Bush changed his stance today on his close adviser Karl Rove, stopping well short of promising that anyone in his administration who helped to unmask a C.I.A. officer would be fired.

"If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration," Mr. Bush said in response to a question, after declaring, "I don't know all the facts; I want to know all the facts."

For months, Mr. Bush and his spokesmen have said that anyone involved in the disclosure of the C.I.A. officer's identity would be dismissed. The president's apparent raising of the bar for dismissal today, to specific criminal conduct, comes amid mounting evidence that, at the very least, Mr. Rove provided backhanded confirmation of the C.I.A. officer's identity.

In the months after the name of the officer, Valerie Plame Wilson, was made public in July 2003, the White House said repeatedly that no one working for the administration was part of the disclosure.

Francisco: Next headline: "In Shift, Bully Boy Says He'll Fire Aides Who 'Committed a Crime' Unless He Decides to Pardon Them."  Followed by,  "Bully Boy Pardons All Aides."

Susan: Today's paper has an op-ed by William Greider that I found to be truth telling.  It's called "America's Truth Deficit" and it's asking that we ask hard questions.  I'll note one paragraph:

Reporters and editors typically take cues from the same influential sources and learned experts in business, finance and government. If the news media decided to cast these facts as the story of the world's only superpower losing ground in global competition and becoming financially dependent on strategic rivals like China, the public would take greater notice. But governing elites would regard such clarity as inflammatory. America's awesome trade problem is instead portrayed as something else - an esoteric technical dispute about currency values, the dollar versus the Chinese yuan. The context is guaranteed to baffle and benumb citizens.


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