Friday, August 19, 2005

Democracy Now: Live from Camp Casey in Crawford; Rita J. King, Bob Somerby, Arianna Huffington, Tom Hayden & Danny Schechter

Republicans Join Calls for Iraq Withdrawal
Even as the protest continues in Texas, there are new developments in the antiwar effort on Capitol Hill. North Carolina Republican Congressman Walter Jones says he has about 50 co-sponsors on a joint resolution that calls on President Bush to announce a plan for withdrawal from Iraq by the end of this year. This is the latest twist in the dramatic shift in position by Jones who was the politician behind the move to change the name of French fries to "Freedom Fries" in the Congressional cafeteria. The resolution was introduced in June by Jones, Republican Ron Paul of Texas, as well as Democrat Dennis Kucinich. It calls on the president to begin the withdrawal by Oct. 1, 2006, but it does not set an end date. Jones said the new supporters include five Republicans.

Allegations of Cover-up Grow Over London Police Shooting
Allegations of a cover-up are growing in London over the fatal Police shooting of a Brazilian man initially characterized as a possible July 21st bomb suspect. The British official in charge of the Independent Police Complaints Commission said yesterday that City police initially opposed an independent investigation into the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes, but agreed to it later. The Police issued the statement after lawyers for the Menezes family met with the complaints commission, demanding more information about the killing.

  • Gareth Pierce, lawyer for the Menezes family:
    "There has been a chaotic mess and what we have asked the IPCC to find out is how much of it is incompetence and negligence, including gross negligence, and how much of it may be something more sinister. We don't know--we're simply asking the questions"

Menezes was shot seven times in the head by police who followed him to a south London subway station on July 22 - one day after the failed London subway bombings. Meanwhile, the BBC is reporting that the whistleblower who leaked documents contradicting the official police story on the shooting has been suspended.

Coretta Scott King Suffered Stroke, Heart Attack
Now an update on the condition of civil rights pioneer Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King, Jr. Her doctor says she suffered a minor heart attack and a major stroke that impaired her ability to speak and affected her right side, but the doctor said she is "completely aware." King's daughter said the family expects a full recovery.


The above is from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Wally, Pru and KeeshaDemocracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says):

Headlines for August 19, 2005

- Israel Says Withdrawal Nearly Complete
- Settler That Killed 4 Palestinians Calls for Sharon’s Murder
- Republicans Join Calls for Iraq Withdrawal
- Putin Calls for Iraq Withdrawal Timetable
- US Building New Prison in Iraq
- Activists Target Disney for Child, Sweatshop Labor
- Rumsfeld Attacks Hugo Chavez
Cindy Sheehan: "I Was Just a Spark That Lit This Fire"

Broadcasting on location from Crawford, Texas, Democracy Now! brings you the voices of military families and anti-war activists who are speaking out against the occupation of Iraq. Cindy Sheehan left Crawford last night to attend to her sick mother, but we caught up with her on her way out of Texas. [includes rush transcript]
Excerpt from this segment:
CINDY SHEEHAN: Well, it's kind of ironic, because this morning I gave two interviews, one to Air America and one to “Nightline” early this morning. And I said, you know what, this Camp Casey movement is bigger than me. It's growing. It's bigger than any of us. And even if I had to leave today, it would keep on going. And if we leave August 31 without the President speaking to us, it's going to keep on. It's growing. It's organic. It's here, and nothing is going to stop it. And just because I’m gone, things will just carry on as normal. I want to get back as soon as possible, because I did say I would stay there until President Bush spoke with me until he left on August 31. I hope if he comes out and speaks to the other moms that they give him hell, though.

AMY GOODMAN: How many other moms are there there of people who are in Iraq or who have died in Iraq?

CINDY SHEEHAN: We have about six moms there. They're Gold Star moms. And there's probably -- I don't -- of women who have -- who have children over there right now, it's hard to tell. Maybe about the same or a little bit more.

AMY GOODMAN: Your reaction to the more than 1,500 vigils that were held around the country on Wednesday night?

CINDY SHEEHAN: It, to me, is just absolutely amazing and so gratifying that something I did – like, I was just a spark that just lit this fire, and it's blazing, and it's out of control now. Like I said, we don't need the spark anymore, and I am just -- I’m just so grateful that the universe chose me to be the spark, but also that America has responded. But I’m grateful and amazed, but I’m not surprised, because I have seen this coming.

Army Vet Ann Wright Running "Field Operations for Peace, Not War"

Ann Wright spent 26 years in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves. She was a diplomat in the State Department for 15 years before resigning in March 2003, protesting the then-impending invasion of Iraq.
Mother Nadia McCaffrey Showed the World a Casualty of the Iraq War

Nadia McCaffrey’s son Patrick was killed in Iraq in June 2004. His death received national attention after Nadia invited the press to Sacramento International Airport to record images of his flag-draped coffin returning home, contravening U.S. military policy.
State Senator Becky Lourey Lost Her Son in Iraq, Now She’s Fighting Against the War

Minnesota State Senator Becky Lourey lost her son Matt in Iraq earlier this year. She has been one of the foremost voices working against the war in Minnesota.
Navy Officer Charlie Anderson: "We Don't Need Yellow Ribbons, We Need Help, We Need Jobs"

Navy Officer Charlie Anderson participated in the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. He is at Camp Crawford to ask questons about how the Bush administration managed the invasion and to challenge the post-invasion policies. [includes rush transcript]
Mom Protests War on Eve of Son's Deployment to Iraq

Mimi Evans came to Camp Casey from Massachusetts because her son is soon to be deployed to fight a war she doesn't believe in.
 F.B.I. Whistle-Blower Colleen Rowley Says No to Occupation

Colleen Rowley was named the “Time” person of the year. She went from F.B.I informant to F.B.I. whistleblower. She spoke out on the war in Iraq and visits Camp Casey from her home in Minnesota. [includes rush transcript]
 Crawford Peace House Supports Camp Casey

The activist community center, Crawford Peace House is hosting Camp Casey. We speak with Peace House spokesperson Hadi Jawad.
Ruminations on America is a site run by journalist Rita J. King and this is our third time noting it this week so please visit the site.  Today we'll note something King wrote entitled "Ruminations:"
The protest against Vietnam didn’t start when the war first kicked in, either.

It took a while for people to see through the lies they had been told because, despite all our self-imposed cynicism, humans seem to be a pretty trusting lot, after all.

Or maybe it’s just easier to blindly believe in authority than to investigate the matter.

Either way--let the games begin. The catalyst conscientious Americans have desperately needed has stepped not into the limelight, but into the blistering Texas sun as she waits for a president who can’t face her or the white crosses representing the dead that loom like specters on the road leading to his vacation ranch.

Sure, he met with her before…

Before she was demanding an explanation.

Also please pass on the following:
For those of you who have contributed essays to the Ruminations on America project, thank you! To contribute, write an essay of no more than 1000 words on the current state of the union or true core American values, with a photograph that conveys a sense of who you are and a brief introduction to your life and email it to
A member e-mails to ask that we highlight Bob Somerby's post today (and chose the excerpt).
From Somerby's Friday essay at The Daily Howler:
LOGIC OF LOSERS: Most likely, we'll get fuller facts on the Plame leak case when Patrick Fitzgerald concludes his probe. In the meantime, we continue to marvel at the strange logic that is now hailed on the liberal web. Yes, we refer to Arianna's latest, approvingly linked to by many lib leaders. Arianna quotes New York Times owner Arthur Sulzberger, who praises Judith Miller's "act of conscience." But to Arianna, this makes no sense--so she proffers a puzzling rebuttal:
HUFFINGTON (8/18/05): Directly contradicting this position is a former Timesman with impeccable journalistic credentials. Bill Kovach, the former Times Washington bureau chief, former curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, and founding director of the Committee of Concerned Journalists, has publicly voiced what many in and around the paper are saying privately.

"When I was chief of the [NYT] bureau in Washington," he told Sidney Blumenthal, "we laid down a rule to the reporters that when they wanted to establish anonymity they had to lay out ground rules that if anything the source said was damaging, false or damaged the credibility of the newspaper we would identify them. If a man damages your credibility, why not lay the blame where it belongs? Whoever was leaking that information to Novak, Cooper or Judy Miller was doing it with malice aforethought, trying to set up a deceptive circumstance. That would invalidate any promise of confidentiality. You wouldn't protect a source for telling lies or using you to mislead your audience. That changes everything. Any reporter that puts themselves or a news organization in that position is making a big mistake."

Apparently, Sulzberger is furious with Kovach for these remarks.

We regard Sulzberger as a dim bulb. (Link below.) But could anything make less sense than that puzzling statement by Kovach? In our view, it's sad when dim-bulb thinking like this begins to define the liberal web. Due to their industry from the mid-60s onward, pseudo-conservatives have a forty-year head start in the nation’s potent spin wars. Progressives need to be smarter, much smarter. We can't get there praising nonsense like this.

First question: Does anyone know what Kovach means in that first high-lighted statement? It's slightly odd when he says he'd out a source if the source said something false; after all, people say things in good faith all the time that turn out to be false in some way. If you announced that you'd out a source for that reason, you'd likely have very few sources. But at least that part of his statement makes sense; what does Kovach mean when he says that he'd out a source "if anything the source said was damaging?" Here at THE HOWLER, we don't have the slightest idea--and, most likely, neither do you. But so what? Kovach is taking an anti-Miller line--and on the liberal web, that means we must cheer.

But Kovach's second highlighted statement is much, much harder to parse. "Whoever was leaking that information to Novak, Cooper or Judy Miller was doing it with malice aforethought, trying to set up a deceptive circumstance," he says. We have no idea what "a deceptive circumstance" is--although the phrase feels good to liberals--but shortly thereafter, Kovach seems to say that the people who spoke to Novak/Cooper/Miller were "telling lies or using [them] to mislead [their] audience." But what were the "lies" involved here? And who exactly was being "misled?" For example, here's what Cooper wrote in Time. It seems to us it's essentially accurate:

COOPER (7/17/03): [S]ome government officials have noted to TIME in interviews (as well as to syndicated columnist Robert Novak) that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is a CIA official who monitors the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. These officials have suggested that she was involved in her husband's being dispatched to Niger to investigate reports that Saddam Hussein's government had sought to purchase large quantities of uranium ore, sometimes referred to as yellow cake, which is used to build nuclear devices.
Where are the "lies?" Who was "misled?" In fact, Plame was "a CIA official who monitors the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction." And she was "involved in her husband's being dispatched to Niger"--a fact that wasn't publicly known at the time these officials told it to Cooper. As far as we know, Plame's involvement was fairly minor (although we wouldn't simply assume that we have been told the full truth on this matter)--but Cooper's statements were perfectly accurate. So who exactly was telling him "lies?" For liberals, it feels very good to make this claim--but the claim doesn't seem to make sense.
Paula e-mails to note Arianna Huffington's "Why Are the Media Having Such a Hard Time Covering Cindy Sheehan?" (The Huffington Post):
As Gary Hart points out there is indeed a rich history of protest in America. From our Founding Fathers to abolitionists to suffragettes to labor strikers to civil rights marchers, protesters have repeatedly challenged the status quo and changed our society for the better.

So why are the mainstream media having such a hard time covering Cindy Sheehan?
It's as if the simple, direct, and starkly emotional nature of her stance is too raw for them to handle in any of the standard ways. So they've taken to treating her with a strange mix of detachment, condescension, distortion, and aggression.

Paula Zahn
referred to her as "this woman." Edmund Morris alluded to her in the New York Times as an "emotional predator." And Dana Milbank wanted to "determine, once and for all, whether Cindy Sheehan is Rosa Parks or Lyndon Larouche."

It's one thing for the
O'Reillys and the Limbaughs to spew anti-Cindy venom. The problem arises when, under the pretense of offering both sides, MSM figures regurgitate the GOP attack machine's most contemptible hits ("she's a puppet," "she's anti-Israel," "her own family is against her") as if there are always two legitimate sides to every story. I wonder if the civil rights protests were happening today, who at the cable shows would feel compelled to give equal time to the John Birch Society?

And what to make of the attempt to paint the nascent anti-war movement as a "
special interest group." Leaving aside the fact that Sheehan is clearly nobody's pawn and has been raising her voice in protest long before Fenton and MoveOn and Ben Cohen arrived on the scene to lend their support, the use of the term "special interest" is blatantly misleading. Thinking that the war is a lousy idea -- as a majority of Americans now do -- does not qualify one as a "special interest group."

So you can imagine what a pleasure it was watching Keith Olbermann this week, who, instead of offering a "balanced," "on the one hand, on the other hand" look at Sheehan, named Limbaugh "today's worst person in the world" for his despicable Sheehan attack, saying "I guess the painkillers wipe out your memory along with your ethics."

Markus e-mails to note Tom Hayden's "An Exit Strategy for Iraq Now" (Common Dreams): 

Already 82 members of the Iraqi National Assembly have signed a public letter calling for "the departure of the occupation." A former minister in the Iraqi interim government, Aiham Alsammarae, is talking with 11 insurgent groups about a transition to politics. Even the militant Shiites led by Muqtada Sadr have shown interest in the political process by collecting a million signatures for American withdrawal. Surveys earlier this year showed that 69% of Iraqi Shiites and more than 75% of Sunnis favored a near-term U.S. withdrawal.

Neither the Bush administration nor the news media have shown interest in these voices, perhaps because they undercut the argument that we are fighting to save Iraqis from each other. By most accounts, the U.S. military presence has attracted and enlarged the hard-core jihadist forces. The course we are on also contributes to incipient civil war because of subsidies and training for Shiite and Kurdish forces against the estranged Sunnis. It was not enough to invite a handful of Sunnis into the constitutional talks.

Any settlement proposal must guarantee a troop withdrawal and new efforts at reconstruction. A successful peace process will guarantee representation for the Iraqi opposition in a final governing arrangement. It will encourage power-sharing arrangements in economic and energy development as well as governance. The handing over of the Iraqi economy to private and mostly U.S. interests will by definition end with the occupation.

These are plausible steps toward conflict resolution. Perhaps Cindy Sheehan's moral stance will awaken courage among politicians who openly or privately deplore the fabricated origins of the war but cannot bring themselves to be honest about the war itself.

Rachel e-mails to note Danny Schechter's "What's the Best Way to 'Support Our Troops'?" (Guerilla News Network):

"Support our troops" is a stealth and deceptive slogan. It's the slogan du jour of demagogues and those that deny that it's the duty of Americans to question their government especially when it is lying to them. It's a way of depoliticizing the war and personalizing a crusade. The Defense Department, military recruiters, veterans groups and right-wing media outlets use this patriotically correct mantra shamelessly in a change the subject maneuver for sympathy, and to bait critics and bolster misguided patriotism.

Who among us is not saddened when American soldiers die or by underreported accounts of the mounting wounded in Veterans hospitals and the walking wounded starting to turn up in our streets from this war like they did after the Vietnam War?

Veteran John Crawford writes in the Times: "One of my buddies got locked up in an institution by the police for being a danger to himself. Another woke up in the hospital with no memory of the beating he received from those same police -- not for being a danger to himself, but to everyone else. One guy got a brain infection and wakes up every morning expecting to be in Iraq. Two more are in Afghanistan, having re-upped rather than deal with being home. Five more went back to Baghdad as private security guards. Their consensus on how it is a second time around: still hot and nasty….

"War stories end when the battle is over or when the soldier comes home. That's one way to tell it's a story. In real life, there are no moments amid smoldering hilltops for tranquil introspection. When the war is over, you pick up your gear, walk down the hill and back into the world, where people smile, congratulate you, and secretly hope you won’t be a burden on society now that you’ve done the dirty work they shun."

But don't just feel sorry for these soldiers who, unlike their Vietnam War counterparts, volunteered, and in some cases, are living on bases in imported luxury compared to the Iraqis they are ostensibly there to defend.

And Martha e-mails about Danny Schechter latest at his News Dissector:

Those of you who have been following my "coverage" from a distance of the so-called Gaza disengagement may realize that I have sought out perspectives and points of view from many sides of the conflict (few conflicts have only two), and draw on a wide range of sources.

Yes, of course, I am trying to inform you about what's going on to the best of my ability, but I also want to call attention to what the networks are NOT doing. They could easily be doing this type of multi-source reporting. They are not just lazy, just committed to a way of presenting the news devoid of all context, background and nuance. That is shameful.

This event has become a media spectacle, with live reports and lots of "action," real and contrived. Unidentified and often extremist organizations with political agendas -- including the Israeli government -- are shown as having no agendas. One commentator on CNN said it was a conflict between secular and religious groups, as if there were no conflicts among them.

Example: Yesterday morning, when the Israeli army and police moved into a synagogue, the impression was given that the people who were resisting were settlers when in fact many were what the Israeli press calls "infiltrators" from outside Gaza, even "lunatics." The New York Times reports today that the clash "produced scenes of violence and raw emotion that the Israeli government had wanted to avoid."

We had CNN commentators comparing the tactics used by the outsiders to the passive resistance of the civil rights movement. The differences are so clear, but never cited.

Civil rights protestors were fighting for freedom for all, not for special privileges for themselves or to deny freedom to others. In the U.S., the police were violent. In Gaza, the police were restrained. It was the protesters who were violent, as the report from Ha’aretz, the Israeli daily, makes clear. The folks refusing to leave the Kfar Darom synagogue were portrayed sympathetically without any examination of their claims, the legality of their settlements or the politics of their positions. Images drove the explanations we heard, not information or analysis.

Here are excerpts from a number of reports which basically contradict the NARRATIVE we watched and the PERCEPTIONS they reinforced.

BuzzFlash has picked their GOP Hypocrite of the Week and click here to read who it is.  (Kara's hoping to have time to do one of her "live from the awards" reports later today).
Amy Goodman notes at the end of today's Democracy Now! the following:
As we wrap up here today, this weekend, Lance Armstrong is coming to the ranch. He will be riding with President Bush on bicycles. He has also come out against the Iraq war, said the money would be better spent on, well, budgets like the National Cancer Institute. Yes, Lance Armstrong, a cancer survivor. On Saturday night, Steve Earle is going to come here and play, and on Sunday, Joan Baez will also be bringing the music to this community. And the events here just continue to evolve. Today a religious ceremony will take place, religious leaders of different faiths walking past the crosses of more than 800 service men and women who have died in Iraq.
Steve Earle (who also has an Air America Radio show that airs Sundays) at Campy Casey Saturday night, Joan Baez on Sunday.  (And Brad, I will note BCAL later tonight hopefully.  Sorry for the delay.)
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