Monday, October 24, 2005

Democracy Now: Malik Rahim, John Clark, Annette Addison, Robert Bullard, Robert Fisk; Brian Conley, Chip Pitts ...

Brent Scowcroft Slams Bush Administration
Last week, Colin Powell's former chief of staff Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson accused Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld of running a cabal that is undermining the country's democracy. And now former national security advisor Brent Scowcroft has slammed the Bush administration in an interview with the New Yorker magazine. He directed much of his criticism to the neoconservatives and their handling of Iraq. He said, "This was said to be part of the war on terror, but Iraq feeds terrorism." Scowcroft, who is close friends with George H.W. Bush, admitted it was difficult to criticize the sitting president. When New Yorker reporter Jeffrey Goldberg asked Scowcroft if the son was different from the father, he said, "I don't want to go there." When Goldberg asked him to name issues on which he agrees with the younger Bush, Scowcroft said, "Afghanistan." He then paused for twelve seconds. Finally, he said, "I think we're doing well on Europe." Scowcroft went on to say "The real anomaly in the Administration is Cheney. I consider Cheney a good friend - I've known him for thirty years. But Dick Cheney I don't know anymore."
White House Prepares for Possible Indictments
Reuters is reporting White House officials will learn today whether special prosecutor Patrick FItzgerald will seek indictments over the Bush administration's outing of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame. Reports indicate that the grand jury could indict both President Bush's chief advisor Karl Rove and VIce President Dick Cheney's chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby for perjury or conspiracy. Both Rove and Libby failed to disclose key information about their role in the leak to the grand jury. Late last week Fitzgerald launched a website prompting speculation that he set it up to post the indictments. Fitzgerald has already posted documents that reveal the Justice Department gave him authority two years ago to expand his inquiry to include any criminal attempts to interfere with the investigation.

U.S. Prison Population 2.3 Million, Largest in World
And new Justice Department statistics show the U.S. prison population grew by nearly 2 percent last year to nearly 2.3 million. According to the International Center for Prison Studies in London, there are more people behind bars in the United States than in any other country. Federal prisons in this country are now at 40 percent over capacity.


Report: FBI Conducting Clandestine Surveillance of U.S. Residents
And the Washington Post is reporting the FBI has conducted clandestine surveillance on some U.S. residents for as long as 18 months at a time without proper paperwork or oversight. Government records indicate that the FBI has investigated hundreds of potential violations related to its use of secret surveillance operations. In one case, FBI agents kept an unidentified target under surveillance for at least five years -- including more than 15 months without notifying Justice Department lawyers after the subject had moved from New York to Detroit. In other cases, the Post reports agents obtained e-mails after a warrant expired, seized bank records without proper authority and conducted an improper "unconsented physical search."


The above four items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Brady, Rachel, Ryan and CindyDemocracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says):

Headlines for October 24, 2005

- White House Prepares for Possible Indictments
- NYT Editor: Miller Mislead the Paper Over CIA Leak
- Brent Scowcroft Slams Bush Administration
- U.S. Death Toll In Iraq Nears 2,000
- 82% Of Iraqis Oppose Foreign Troops
- Hans Blix: U.S. Mislead World Over Iraq WMD's
- Hurricane Wilma Hits Florida With 125 mph Winds
- NYPD Officer Convicted in Killing of African Immigrant
- U.S. Prison Population at 2.3 Million, Largest in World
New Orleans Community Organizer Malik Rahim Demands Inquiry into Hurricane Katrina Deaths and Amnesty for “Looters”

This past weekend, activists, scholars and survivors testified at a people’s inquiry set up to present evidence and assess whether President Bush and his administration have committed crimes against humanity. Malik Rahim traveled to New York to testify.
From the Gulf to the Gulf: New Orleans Professor John Clark Testifies on the “Triple Crime of Katrina”

John Clark, professor of philosophy and environmental studies, spoke at this weekend’s Bush crimes commission about systemic racism and the discrimination in the response to Hurricane Katrina. He says the Bush administration is guilty of not preparing for the disaster, inadequately responding, and botching the recovery process.
Hurricane Katrina Survivor Recounts Days With No Water and Her Son’s Ordeal in the Orleans Parish Prison

Annette Addison speaks at the Bush crimes commission about her harrowing experience shared with her sister during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. She also recounts her son’s ordeal as a prisoner in Orleans Parish Prison. [includes rush transcript]
Environmental Justice Professor Robert Bullard On How Race Affected the Federal Government’s Response to Katrina

Bullard speaks about ongoing issues of environmental racism in Louisiana and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He raises questions about race, the communities’ distrust of federal and local agencies, and housing laws and discrimination.
And for those who catch their broadcast of Democracy Now! later in the day, they've added this segment (from October 20, 2005) to today's broadcast:
Robert Fisk: War is the "Total Failure of the Human Spirit"

We play an interview with veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk of the London Independent, speaking last month in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Fisk says, "The Americans must leave [Iraq]. And the Americans will leave but the Americans can't leave. And that's the equation that turns sand into blood. Once you become an occupying power, you take on the responsibilities for the civilians, which we have not done. But you also have a responsibility to yourself. You have to keep justifying, over and over and over again to your own populations, you were right to do it." [includes rush transcript]
Why is Fisk being added to some broadcasts?  From The Independent, the Associated Press' "17 dead as hotel in Baghdad comes under attack:"

Three enormous bombs, one of them a cement-mixing truck packed with explosives, blew up outside the Palestine Hotel - home to many foreign journalists in Iraq. Police said at least 17 people were killed.

The dead included civilians and Iraqi police, said Assistant Interior Minister Major General Hussein Kamal. A second bomb exploded not far from the police post which sits on the northeast side of Firdous Square, just east of the hotel grounds.

Associated Press Television News pictures showed the cement mixer exploding in a huge ball of flame and a cloud of smoke billowing into the central Baghdad sky.

The exploding cement truck blew a hole in a 12-foot concrete wall that separates the hotel from the square where an enormous statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled after U.S. troops captured the Iraqi capital on April 9, 2003.


Toppled by us, most likely, just to clarify.  Gareth e-mailed to note the story above.

Jess notes Brian Conley's "Suicide Attack in Tahrir Square" (Alive in Baghdad):

At 11:30 today there was a suicide car bombing in Tahrir Square in the Bab Al-Sharjiy neighborhood. The car bomber was targeting Iraqi Police operating a checkpoint in the area. He was driving a Volkswagen Golf and pulled up beside another car waiting in traffic. It was at this point that he detonated his explosives.

Tahrir Square was targeted because of its location. Many MNF-I (Multi National Force - Iraq) and Iraqi convoys travel through Tahrir Square on their way to the Green Zone. Tahrir Square is located just above the Jumhuriyah bridge which is a main entrance into the Green Zone.

A man on the scene claimed that Tahrir Square, despite the heavy traffic of MNF-I forces has been generally quiet. However, the far side of the square from the Green Zone, which leads into Sadr City, has seen some clashes and other trouble.

At least three Iraqi Police were killed in the attack, and five civilians wounded. The explosion rattled buildings in the square, blowing out windows all around the area. Four civilian vehicles were destroyed, as well as one Iraqi Police SUV. The wounded civilians were badly injured and are not expected to survive.


Brenda e-mails to note Chip Pitts' "A Constitutional Disaster" (The Nation):


While natural disasters in the Gulf Coast and the man-made disaster in Iraq continue to grab the public's attention, a constitutional disaster quietly threatens the nation.

The USA Patriot Act's renewal is now almost a fait accompli--accepted by all but the most steadfast civil libertarians in Congress. The House and Senate have separately voted to approve the law with only minor changes, and the final conference committee action and vote is expected within the next week or so. None of the provisions of the law that were slated to sunset now appear likely to do so.

This law, enacted during a "state of emergency" declared by President Bush and intended to be revisited in calmer times, is now effectively being made permanent. California Republican Representative Dana Rohrabacher has strongly objected to the reauthorization on this ground.

The Patriot Act has been and will continue to be used mainly against ordinary Americans accused of crimes unrelated to terrorism, or those who disagree with government policies or happen to be immigrants or of the Muslim faith.

The result is likely to be an enduring shift of power from the legislative and judicial branches to the executive branch--and less privacy and liberty for all.


Micah asks that we note this:



3:00-6:00 pm: Law and Disorder Special
Beyond the PATRIOT Act.
Beyond the PATRIOT Act.



WBAI will be broadcasting it, so those are eastern times. You can listen online if you're not in the NYC area.  Michael Radner (a frequent guest on Democracy Now!) is one of the hosts and Ruth has noted this show as one worth checking out and listening to. 
Micah brings up Ruth's Morning Edition Report.  It should have rerun this morning.  My apologies.  I was very out of it this morning.  I'd had a ton of people over yesterday, when they left, I thought I was sitting down on the sofa for just a second as I kicked off my shoes.  I woke up many, many hours later (which is when I started the entries about reporting from out of the US mainstream).  We'll repost Ruth tomorrow.
Susan e-mails to note Missy Comley Beattie's "CSI: Iraq" (CounterPunch):

I think of that Sunday when my sister called and said, "Chase was killed in Iraq last night. Mark asked me to tell Mother and Daddy because he can't." Her words echo in my head many times a day and go to bed with me every night when I lie awake, trying to fall asleep. Saturday, the day before we learned of Chase's death, I spoke with my brother. He told me that Chase was in the field and would call when he could. It was at the end of that week when all those troops from Ohio died and my mother had a terrible feeling, almost a portent about Chase.

In fact, my mother asked my niece who'd stopped by on Saturday, "Do you understand your brother may not come out of this alive and that if he does, he may be wounded physically and mentally?" Chase's sister never considered this a possibility. She just expected him to return when his tour was over and be the same person he was when he left. All of us, as we went about our routines, were thinking of Chase, talking about him, and he was already dead. We just didn't know it yet.

Many people deny the reality of this war. Even those who have been touched personally still refuse to read and become informed about the reasons we're in Iraq. It's easier to accept that we're there because we're fighting to preserve our freedoms and to bring democracy to the people of the region than to examine the huge role that American empire and oil acquisition play in our policies, not to mention that war generally insures the reelection of an incumbent.

And it's more palatable to believe that our leaders would never take us down a path that's based on lies. But it's also obscured from our minds by media sleuths who abandon their role as reporters to bring us the lurid details of the latest disappearances, kidnappings, and murders, babysitting these stories while neglecting this war of choice.

So, as I watched the news which showed hours of commentary on the Pamela Vitale murder, I waited for someone to SPEAK the body-count in Iraq, to tell us not only the number of American troops killed in the last 24 hours, or this week but the number of Iraqi dead as well. Instead, this information only looped around beneath the intrusive rant of our Cable luminaries.

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FYI: Our latter day Dylan's breaking down his own reviews today. 

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