Thursday, August 18, 2005

Democracy Now: John Conyer, Murray Waas, Michael Wolff, Michal Ratner, David Luban; Rita J. King on Benderman & Mejia, Cindy Sheehan, Robert Parry ...

More Than 1,500 Antiwar Vigils Held Across the US
Last night, people across the United States participated in more than 1,500 candlelight vigils calling for an end to the occupation of Iraq. The vigils were called by Cindy Sheehan who is continuing her antiwar protest outside of President Bush's property near Crawford, Texas. Here is the mother of a soldier who was wounded in Iraq, speaking at a vigil in Washington DC.

  • Gilda, mother of soldier wounded in Iraq:
    "What is unforgivable is that you betrayed our idealistic American sons and daughters who trustingly placed their lives in your hands. we, their mothers, will not let you move on with your life."

One mother of a soldier who served in Iraq, speaking in Washington DC. Meanwhile, in Crawford Cindy Sheehan has been joined by a growing number of people at her protest and has now begun setting up camp on the property of one of President Bush's neighbors who offered his land to Sheehan. Among the people joining her are several parents of soldiers killed in Iraq, as well as Minnesota State Senator Becky Lourey, whose son died in Iraq, as well as FBI whistleblower Colleen Rowley--who is running for Congress in Minnesota. Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern is also in Crawford and many more people are expected to pour in for a rally planned for Thursday evening.

  • Cindy Sheehan:
    "Our spirits are always good here at Camp Casey 'cause we feel the support of everybody around the world."

Roberts Ruled on Key Bush Case While Interviewing for Supreme Court
In another Roberts development, new details are emerging over a potentially serious conflict of interest. As we have reported previously on Democracy Now!, Judge Roberts was interviewing for a possible Supreme Court nomination at the same time he was presiding over a court case of great importance to the White House. But now the Washington Post has uncovered new details. The paper analyzes Roberts recently released details of the months-long interviewing process. They show that Roberts met with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and other administration officials about the Supreme Court job while sitting on the three-judge panel that eventually allowed Bush to resume the use of military officers to conduct trials of terrorist suspects held at Guantanamo. These so-called "military commissions" are central to Bush's effort to deny constitutional rights to prisoners at Guantanamo.

According to the Post, Roberts met with Gonzales on April 1, six days before hearing oral arguments in the case. That case resulted in a unanimous decision in favor of the Bush administration. Moreover, a top deputy to Gonzales, Assistant Attorney General Peter Keisler, argued the case on behalf of the administration. But there's more. One month later, with the case in progress, Roberts was called to the White House for a meeting with Vice President Cheney, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card and Bush's senior advisor, Karl Rove. President Bush held his final face-to-face interview with John Roberts on July 15. That was the same day Roberts and two other federal judges ruled in favor of the White House in the case, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. Roberts was formally nominated just days later. We will have much more on this later in the show.

The above are from Democracy Now!'s Headlines today and were selected by Liang and Zach. Democracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says)

Headlines for August 18, 2005

- More Than 1,500 Antiwar Vigils Held Across the US
- Gaza Withdrawal Continues
- Bangladesh Hunts for Bombers
- Roberts Docs Missing from Archives
- Ohio Governor Faces Criminal Charges
- Pope's Lawyers Ask Bush for Immunity in Molestation Case
- Studies: Blacks Have Less Access to Health Care Than Whites
- Court Hears Details of Killing of Afghan Prisoner by US Soldier

Conyers Calls For Investigation Into Ascroft's Role In CIA Leak Case

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) is calling for an investigation into the role of former Attorney General John Ashcroft in the outing of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame. Conyers' call comes after a new report by investigative journalist Murray Waas that a special prosecutor was appointed in the case in large part because FBI investigators had begun to specifically question the veracity of accounts provided to them by Karl Rove. We speak with Conyers and Waas.

Media Culpa: Should The New York Times and Time Magazine Have Exposed Karl Rove's Role in the Outing of Valerie Plame?

In an article in Vanity Fair, columnist Michael Wolff criticizes those in the mainstream media - particularly Time Magazine and The New York Times - who knew of Karl Rove's role in the outing of Valerie Plame, but refused to expose him. We host a debate with Wolff and investigative journalist Murray Waas.

Conflict of Interest? Roberts' Interviews with White House Officials Prior to Gitmo Ruling Raise Questions About Impartiality

New details have emerged concerning the timing of John Roberts' interviews for his Supreme Court post with senior Bush administration officials which call into question his impartiality in a crucial case concerning military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay. We speak with Georgetown University law professor David Luban and Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Elaine asked for this from Rita J. King's Ruminations on America to be highlighted: "The Case of Sergeant Benderman -- Camilo E. Mejia:"

When Sgt. Kevin Benderman went to Iraq on March of 2003, he saw the destruction of a nation, he saw a little girl with a burnt arm asking the soldiers for help they were ordered not to provide, he saw people drinking water from mud puddles, and he saw that Iraqis were regular people, just like himself, and that our military should not bring destruction to that country.

What Sgt. Benderman saw in Iraq changed him in a way so profound, that after ten impeccable years in the Army, he decided to apply for conscientious objection. But Sgt. Benderman also spoke truth to the people about what is going on in Iraq, and he spoke about how the war is not destroying Iraq alone, but our own country as well. He spoke of how Amercian soldiers are dehumanized by the war.
[. . .]
The defense successfully showed how during that meeting Sgt. Benderman's chain of command, not knowing how to deal with his Conscientious Objector packet, released him to work on documents and to have dinner with his wife, just an hour prior to his unti's deployment, and how they made no effort to get him to the airfield, or to get him onboard a later flight. The defense showed how Sgt. Benderman, far from being absent without authority or having missed movement, continue to performa a sergeant's duties while and after his unit deployed to Iraq.

[The above entry was written by Camilo Mejia. The intro to the excerpt has been corrected because I wrongly credited the piece to King. My apologies.]

Kim e-mails to note Cindy Sheehan's "Camp Casey, Day 12" (The Huffington Post):

Our candlelight vigil at Camp Casey was beautiful. There were hundreds of people here and we are hearing that hundreds of people were involved in vigils around the country. We at Camp Casey are so amazed and gratified that there were almost 1700 vigils around the country.

[. . .]

Another thing is that the Israel thing has not died. I did not say that my son died for Israel. I have never said it, I don't think it, I don't believe it. It is just another lie, smear tactic from the right. It needs to die right now. It's not the truth. I stand by everything that I have said. But I will not stand by things that I haven't said. I am not anti-Semitic. I am just anti-killing. George Bush is responsible for killing so many people, but nobody scrutinizes anything he says, especially leading up to the war. Since there is nothing to smear me about with the truth, they have to tell lies. A former friend who is anti-Israel and wants to use the spotlight on me to push his anti-Semitism is telling everyone who is listening that I believe that Casey died for Israel and has gone so far as to apparently doctor an email from me. People have to know that he doesn't speak for me. ABC Nightline can't confirm his email is real and therefore any reporting on it is irresponsible. That is not my issue. That is not my message and anyone who knows me knows it doesn't sound like me.

I'm focused on my mission in Crawford: to meet with the President and demand answers. That's it. I have spent enough time on that. Enough is enough.

Nolanda e-mails to note Fighting Irish's "The Vanishing pResident" at Democratic Underground:

Bush's nation building experiment is fizzling and may yet explode. Every day more and more mothers are getting the bad news that ultimately brought Cindy Sheehan to Texas and the world stage. The price of gasoline that was conveniently kept in check through the last election is now wreaking havoc on all sectors of the economy. While Bush pedals blissfully through the cow pies, real Americans are climbing on their bikes out of economic necessity. Our C student president is taking out his revenge on scholarship by discrediting science when it might be our only hope. The long delayed criminal investigation involving the Bush administration is now coming to a head.

If we make it through these converging crises we will long remember that when things got really bad, our leader went into hiding. Even the ridiculous photo ops of his "working vacation" do not mask the reality of a president running from the truth.

Doug e-mails to note Robert Parry's "Iraq & the Logic of Withdrawal" (Consortium News):

By tying American "credibility" to the outcome in Iraq, Bush has locked the United States in even tighter. His comment also recalled Richard Nixon's warning that the United States would be a "pitiful, helpless giant" unless it held tough in Vietnam.

But Nixon's predictions of a geopolitical catastrophe that would follow the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam did not come to pass -- despite the continuation of horrific violence, especially in Cambodia, for several more years.

Likewise, it's not at all certain that a U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq would bring the dire consequences for the United States that Bush foresees. Indeed, if combined with U.S. support for a fair resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and a genuine commitment for political reform in repressive Arab states, an Iraq withdrawal might strengthen overall American relations with the Islamic world.

It still can't be ruled out that a messy civil war in Iraq will follow, but that could happen whether U.S. forces stay or go. It already appears that a civil war is underway, with militias and death squads from various factions eliminating perceived enemies.

Now, however, the Shiites can rely on Americans to do much of the hard fighting in Fallujah and other Sunni strongholds. A U.S. withdrawal at least would give the Shiites and the Kurds an incentive to show more flexibility in compromising with the Sunnis.

Via BuzzFlash, Lynda found Norman Solomon's "Blaming the Antiwar Messengers" (Common Dreams):

LBJ's successor Richard Nixon was quick to brandish similar innuendos. "Let us be united for peace," Nixon said early in his presidency. "Let us be united against defeat. Because let us understand: North Vietnam cannot defeat or humiliate the United States. Only Americans can do that."

Martin Luther King Jr. found that former allies could become incensed when he went out of his way to challenge the war. In his "Beyond Vietnam" speech delivered at New York's Riverside Church on April 4, 1967, King called the United States "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today." From Vietnam to South Africa to Latin America, he said, the U.S. was "on the wrong side of a world revolution." King asked why the U.S. was suppressing revolutions "of the shirtless and barefoot people" in the Third World, instead of supporting them.

That kind of talk drew barbs and denunciations from media quarters that had applauded his efforts to end racial segregation. Time magazine called the speech "demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi." The Washington Post warned that "King has diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people."

When the Gulf War began, snappy phrases like "blame America first" were a popular way to vilify dissenters. "What we cannot be proud of, Mr. Speaker, is the unshaven, shaggy-haired, drug culture, poor excuses for Americans, wearing their tiny, round wire-rim glasses, a protester's symbol of the blame-America-first crowd, out in front of the White House burning the American flag," Representative Gerald B. H. Solomon said on Jan. 17, 1991.

During a typical outburst in early 2003 before the Iraq invasion, Rush Limbaugh told his radio audience: "I want to say something about these antiwar demonstrators. No, let's not mince words, let's call them what they are -- anti-American demonstrators." Weeks later, former Congressman Joe Scarborough, a Republican rising through the ranks of national TV hosts, said on MSNBC: "These leftist stooges for anti-American causes are always given a free pass. Isn’t it time to make them stand up and be counted for their views, which could hurt American troop morale?"

Such poisonous sludge is now pouring out of some mass media -- and we should expect plenty more in response to a growing antiwar movement.

This article is adapted from Norman Solomon's new book "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death." For information, go to:

Natalie e-mailed David Sirota's "Feingold Stepus Up On Iraq, Demands Exit Strategy" (Sirotablog) and notes she's not sure which of the four paragraphs to pull quote from. I'm not sure either so we'll go with the first two:

Finally, one of the top 2008 Democratic presidential contenders has the guts to take a major stand on the Iraq War. According to the Associated Press, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) is announcing his support for the United States to set a firm timetable for withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. Though that is a position that polls show a majority of Americans support, high profile Democrats have been unwilling to come out and make that stand. In fact, just a few weeks ago, the Democratic campaign committee in Washington is actually trying to pretend the Iraq War doesn't exist.

Feingold is the highest profile Democrat to join a group of courageous (though largely ignored) Democrats in Congress who are
demanding that Americans' concern about Iraq are heard and acted upon by our government.

Read the whole thing by clicking here.

Brenda e-mails to note Dal LaMagna's "What Is Sucess in Iraq? Why Bring Troops Home Now?" (The Huffington Post):

One way to solve this dilemma is to acknowledge that, as Tom Hayden says:

  • There is no military solution
  • Reconstruction is impossible under occupation
  • We must set a new direction

Once acknowledged, we can then see why many experienced leaders suggest that the best way to win the peace (for us and for Iraq) and to end the war is to turn away from military battles and focus on political realities.

Former Secretary of the Navy,
John Lehman, said, "you have to have an olive branch, always. You have to have amnesties. You have to have a path always open to let the enemy back down, get off the limb, become reassimilated."

Using that reasoning, some suggest that we need to negotiate with leaders of various secular Iraqi insurgent groups -- whose primary goal is to end the occupation of their country and who are increasingly angry with extremists who target innocent Iraqi civilians. Many of these secular insurgents are willing "to surrender in return for immediate and total U.S. withdrawal and major concessions to Sunnis in the new political order." Thus, if they became part of the political process, there would be more Iraqis having more of a say and thus more buy in while at the same time effectively isolating the extremists from the Iraqi society.

[Note: LaMagna wrote the above with Jennifer Hicks.]

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[Note: This post corrected to give Camilo Mejia credit for the essay he wrote at Rita J. King's Ruminations on America which I wrongly credited to King.]