Monday, September 12, 2005

Other items

Either way, how the White House moved, in a matter of days, from the president's praise of a man he nicknamed "Brownie" to a rare public reassignment explains much about fears within the administration that its delayed response to the disaster could do lasting damage to both Mr. Bush's power and his legacy. But more important to some members of the administration, it dented the administration's aura of competence.
Mr. Bush, his aides acknowledge, is loath to fire members of his administration or to take public actions that are tantamount to an admission of a major mistake. But the hurricane was different, they say: the delayed response was playing out every day on television, and Mr. Brown, fairly or unfairly, seemed unaware of crucial events, particularly the scenes of chaos and death in the New Orleans convention center. The only real analogy to his removal, they say, was Mr. Bush's decision in the spring of 2003 to push aside Jay Garner, the retired lieutenant general who had been sent to Iraq immediately after fighting ended to begin the reconstruction process that proved ill-fated. Within a month, he had been replaced by L. Paul Bremer III and by June 2003, he had left his post altogether.

The above is from a fluffer, David E. Sanger, it's filled with anonymice, so take "FEMA Chief Was Recalled After High-Level Meeting" for what it's worth. Sanger probably needed the end credit help of fellow fluffer Richard W. Stevenson to get through a discussion on why "Brownie" was removed without ever raising the issue of "Brownie"'s resume.

Fluffers on the Elite Fluff Patrol just make things seem better (usually through omission and anonymous sources), it takes a real desire to treat the truth as elastic to do what Glen Justice and John Files do in "Honoring Terror's Victims and Supporting the Troops." One of the few things Powell got honest about in his non-mea culpa with Barbara Walters was that there was no connection he'd seen between 9-11 and Iraq. Leave it for the headline writer and Justice and Files to conflate the two -- unquestionally -- while reporting on a parade. After they're done cooing over the event they note this at the end:

War protesters were in short supply. When two did appear along Mr. Rumsfeld's path, one carrying a sign saying, "Bush is a Liar," an aide accompanying Mr. Rumsfeld, Allison Barber, encouraged walkers to begin chanting "U.S.A." The chant was short-lived.
Earlier in the day, several protesters appeared to run into trouble with the large police presence at the Pentagon and along the route. One man who registered for the walk was detained by a Pentagon police officer after he slipped a black hood over his head and produced a sign that read, "Freedom?"
The man was removed from the Pentagon registration area, handcuffed and taken away in a police car. It was not clear whether he was charged or simply detained and the police did not respond to messages requesting more information.
Ann Grossman, 56, from Silver Spring, Md., also carried a homemade sign, which read "Honor Our Troops, Respect Their Lives," that was confiscated by police at the Pentagon. Ms. Grossman registered to participate in the walk, saying she did so to voice her opposition to the Iraq war, and she was allowed to participate without the sign.
"I am totally against this administration and totally against this war," Ms. Grossman said.

Are they in the Green Zone? Were their dialing fingers tired? "It was not clear whether he was charged or simply detained . . ." They can get leaks from the White House on the second but the Times has no one to talk to with the D.C. police?

Here's another issue, one they side step, why was the man charged or detained to begin with?

It's not a crime to wear a hood, it's not a crime to hold a sign. Real reporters , which Files and Justice demonstrate they are not, would have addressed that issue. They would have asked why the man was handcuffed, charged or not.

They're not doing their job. Collecting quotes isn't doing their job. Now maybe all the lazy asses in the Green Zone have convinced them you eat your pizza, you grab the phone, and then you write down what you were told. That's not reporting.

You seem someone handcuffed for excercising their Constitutional rights, you ask why. You don't get an answer, you print that.

You certainly don't treat it so casually. They should be ashamed. They're reporting on a so-called "Freedom March" when right in front of them, someone's denied freedom and they can't even register what just happened. Maybe the two didn't study the Constitution in J-School? Maybe the juxtaposition of it all was lost on them?

It's a funny thing, they're covering a march. Note how full of details (glowing) their report is. (When reality rears its ugly head, they note it in passing.) I was at the protests for last January's inauguration. Where was the Times? Other than a prig to giggling over a "near nude" woman (I believe that was the term, the idiot may have written "near naked"), the paper seemed oblivious. There were many events scheduled and the Times missed all of them (all were well attended). But this march, an "official" march, gets the kind of reporting that you'll never see the protests get.

For chuckles, check out Richard A. Oppel, Jr.'s "Under Pressure, Rebels Abandon an Iraqi Stronghold" with a dateline of "Baghdad" and an end credit of "Thom Shanker" also contributing "from Washington." The article "reports" on Tal Afar. Life in the Green Zone. Saturday's editorial on that can be found here and we'll pull a quote from Dahr Jamail's ""How the US occupation is murdering the truth" (England's The Socialist Worker) that Pru e-mailed last night:

The mainstream journalists have to toe an editorial line. We take the people's perspective and start from the ground up. You always have to ask, "What are ordinary people saying?"Some of my colleagues will embed with the military to take "the temperature" of the troops and report on morale.
There are some embedded journalists who have exposed incidents involving US troops -- the best example is the journalist who filmed the execution of a wounded resistance fighter in a mosque in Fallujah last November.
But unless you are embedding to report on the troops, you can only report what the military wants you to report, and go where they take you. This is not journalism.

And we'll note this from an e-mail sent out to those who sign up at Iraq Dispatches:

All journalists have perspectives that color and shape their reporting. Many factors influence not just what questions get asked but what issues get reported on in the first place. It takes much more work to remain objective when some of the people journalists cover are similar to them in terms of class and culture while others are very different. For embedded reporters in a war zone, there are further complications. They travel, eat, sleep and are protected by the soldiers they are with. There is literally no distance between the journalists and the troops thus their vision can easily be blurred. This has been a particular problem with reporting in Iraq.
Dahr Jamail, an American, saw these problems of perspective clouding the reporting about the war in the U.S. media. He decided to do something about it. He went to Iraq where he reports outside the bubble of American control. His articles appear in The Guardian and The Nation. He also posts his dispatches on his own widely read website,
This interview with David Barsamian will be broadcast on Alternative Radio. You may listen to it on your local station, or stream it from the internet from that station at the time of broadcast.
Date & Time: Tuesday, Sept 13, 1400-1459 ET

We'll do a reminder on that tomorrow as well.

Seth e-mails to note David Sarasohn's "The Patriot Act on Trial" (The Nation):

Brandon Mayfield is the Justice Department's worst nightmare. Not because he's done anything illegal or dangerous to American security but because he hasn't.
That simple reality, now repeatedly admitted and apologized for, is likely to give both the Justice Department and the Patriot Act their most pointed courtroom challenge since the act was passed. This summer in Portland saw the first hearing on three lawsuits--featuring a media superstar lawyer, more government lawyers than could fit at the defense table, the Fourth Amendment, a claim for major damages and repeated concerns expressed by US senators--taking on the post-9/11 operations of the Justice Department.
The case began in March 2004 after the terrorist bombings in Madrid, when the Spanish government found a partial fingerprint in a bag containing detonators. Spanish officials sent a digital copy of the partial print to the FBI, which ran it through its 40 million fingerprints and came up with a match for Mayfield, in the system because of a teenage arrest.

Rod e-mails to note that on Democracy Now! today:

Democracy Now! broadcasts from Louisiana.

Amy Goodman's upcoming appearances include:

* Amy Goodman in Philadelphia, PA:
Mon, Sept 12
Bread and Roses 'Tribute to Change' Awards
Zellerbach Theater
Annenberg Center
3680 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA
Tickets: $50, $25 fixed income, $5 students
For more information, visit

* Amy Goodman in New York, NY:
Tues, Sept 13
Open UNA public event, on the eve of the UN summit
Riverside Church90 Riverside Drive
New York, New York 10027
Free and open to the public
To register, and for more information, visit

* Amy Goodman in New York, NY:
Wed, Sept 14
A debate between George Galloway and Christopher Hitchenson
Iraq and U.S. and British foreign policy.
Moderated by Amy Goodman
Mason Hall at the Baruch College Performing Arts Center
17 Lexington Ave., enter on 23rd St.
New York, NY
Tickets $12 in advance through Ticket Central
Phone: 212-279-4200
and at the door.,
For more details on this debate and Galloway's U.S. tour September 13-24,visit:
or call 415-607-1924.
Presented by: The New Press, International Socialist Review, and the Center for Economic Research and Social Change

* Amy Goodman in Huntsville, AL:
Fri, Sept 16
*TIME: 730 PM
Media-ocracy: How the American Media Compromises Democracy
Chan Auditorium Administrative Science Building
The University of Alabama
Huntsville, AL
Admission is FREE
A sign language professional will provide interpretation
For more information, call 256-489-3884 or email
Reception before the speaking engagement (Reservations are required!)
6:00 - 7:00 pm
Union Grove Art Gallery
The University of Alabama in Huntsville
Cost is $30. Includes refreshments and Goodman's book, The Exception to theRulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media that Love Them.
Call 256-824-6210 or email
no later than Sept.9, 2005.
Space is limited.

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