Sunday, October 02, 2005

Reporting from outside the US mainstream media focused on Iraq

In one sense, Fishback's revelations -- corroborated by other soldiers, now lying low to ward off the inevitable reprisals by Bush minions -- are not news. For example, this column has been detailing the use of torture in Bush's global gulag since January 2002. It was no secret; at first, the Bushists even bragged about it. "The gloves are coming off" was a favorite phrase of the deskbound tough guys cracking foxy to an enthralled media.
They also boasted of "unleashing" the CIA, which set up its own "shadow army" of non-uniformed combatants operating outside the law -- i.e., "terrorists," according to Bush's own definition -- while creating secret prisons all over the world. As one CIA op enthused to The Boston Globe: "'We are doing things I never believed we would do -- and I mean killing people!" A senior Bush official proudly pointed to the ultimate authority for this deadly system: "If the commander in chief didn't think it was appropriate, we wouldn't be doing it."
We now know that in the very first weeks of the War on Terror, White House legal lackeys began concocting weasel-worded "findings" to justify a range of Torquemadan techniques while shielding Bush honchos from prosecution for the clear breaches of U.S. and international law they were already planning. Bush and his top officials signed off on very specific torture parameters, including physical assault and psychological torment; even beating a captive to death was countenanced, as long the killer proclaimed that he had no murder in his heart when he commenced to whupping, The New York Review of Books reports. Indeed, the lackeys went so far as to establish a new principle of Executive Transcendence: The president, they claimed, could not be constrained by any law whatsoever in his conduct of the War on Terror.

The above is from Chris Floyd's "Global Eye: Captain Courageous" (Moscow Times) and was e-mailed by Nathalie. The piece details Captain Ian Fishback's efforts to garner attention to the US military abuses in Iraq and to note it's not a "few bad apples" and it is coming from above the enlisted whom the Bully Boy uses for fall guys. It's Sunday, we're looking at what's being covered outside of the US mainstream media and for this entry the focus is Iraq.

What's here? I always mean to write something about that. Then after three to four hours, I just want the thing up and to get away from the computer. At the end, we've got Tom Hayden, next up is the rumor that resistors have captured Marines (and according to the radio are demanding a release prior to releasing the Marines) (if the rumor of the capture is true).

There's a thing that DK found which we should highlight a bit more. (Fingers crossed, I'll remember to.) There are two portraits in DK's article, as the title notes. We've focused on the American and DK said he went back and forth over his pick for the excerpt but in the end went with the American due to the false "few bad apples" argument and the need to refute that. There's some coverage of last weekend's protests. There's more. For instance, did you know Rumsfeld's office commissioned a report to find out whether the invasion/occupation delayed relief efforst to the victims of Hurricane Katrina? It did. And the invasion/occupation did according to the report.

For visitors or newer members, we do this every Sunday with the exception being last Sunday when there were too many computer problems, too many activities to take part in (in D.C.), and too much going on. My apologies for that. Members pick things they find interesting from outside the US mainstream media and send them in.

Which should make it a quick entry to pull together but a lot of members participate and what goes up is narrowed down. A visitor complained that Lynda always gets her stuff featured. Lynda sends a lot of things and not all get featured but she (and others) have been around long enough to figure the sort of things that make it into these roundups. They also know that if something strikes them as interesting, it helps to write something explaining why they think it is of interest and not just copying and pasting the excerpt (or article) and a link. With these entries, the focus could be anywhere in the world and it's not wise to assume that I'm going to read something and grasp why it's important. An issue in Nepal might be clear but an issue from an area that gets very little coverage in the US or that I know very little of may not register with me because the article's development has no context.

We also get visitors who complain about featuring The Socialist Worker. Just to make sure their weekends are complete, we're featuring three or four from that periodical in England. Pru always find strong stuff from them and we're happy to feature them. We feature The Financial Times when Gareth finds something worthy from that. The Socialist Worker does strong work and is committed to social justice. The Financial Times? (I'm laughing on this end.) We don't feature right-wing op-eds. Other than that, anything can be considered.

Ava's helped with these entries some Sundays and a few weeks back Ty & Jess took on the duties because I had work related duties that night. They can tell you this is not a quick entry.
You have to go through the e-mails and read them and that alone takes a great deal of time. When I'm doing it, I usually start around the time The Laura Flanders Show starts (sometimes an hour earlier) and I'm never done by the time Flanders' three hour shows goes off. (I'm reading through the e-mails quickly which is another reason it helps to add something explaining why the story is important to you.)

If there's a prejudice in the selection (and I'm sure there is), I'm not interested in something that's breaking on Sunday and will consume Monday's US media. Such as the boating story in New York that will be all over Today, Good Morning America, the papers, et al tomorrow. In the non Iraq roundup, Larry found something that was interesting and it's included for that reason. We focus on Iraq in one entry (as we do in the Indymedia roundup) because a) it's important and b) sometimes this is the only time we focus on Iraq. The New York Times' coverage hasn't impressed me. There have been a few strong stories of late. Maybe the tide will turn for the Times coverage? Maybe not. Hopefully that clears up any confusion.

Olive e-mails to note "US checks on 'capture' of Marines in Iraq" (Reuters via Australia's ABC):

The US military says it has no indication that two Marines have been seized by militants in western Iraq, as a militant group has claimed.
However, the military says it is making checks.
In a statement posted on an Islamic website, Al Qaeda in Iraq claimed to have seized the Marines in western Iraq, where US forces are conducting an operation against suspected insurgents hiding out near the Syrian border.
"There are no indications that Al Qaeda claims of having kidnapped two Marines in western Iraq are true," Major Neil Murphy said in a statement.

[. . . ]
Meanwhile, the brother of Iraq's Interior Minister, kidnapped by gunmen on Saturday, has been freed from captivity, Shiite political officials said.

Olive also notes Michael Rowland's "US generals talk up Iraq prospects" (Australia's ABC):

US military leaders remain confident next week's referendum on Iraq's draft constitution will be a success despite mounting fears it could lead to the violent break-up of the country.
The Pentagon is conceding US troops could be in Iraq for several years.

Megan e-mails to note Shirin Shirin's "Thousands Rally Against 'Economic Apartheid'" (IPS):

At least 100,000 people from different parts of the U.S. and the world converged on Washington Saturday to demand an immediate end of the U.S. occupation of Iraq and what they termed the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank's "war on the poor".
The march was timed to coincide with the ongoing annual meetings of the World Bank and IMF. Led by United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), a coalition of anti-war organisations, people of different racial and national backgrounds joined the march, which started and terminated at the Washington monument.
Although the U.S. Park Police no longer issue official crowd estimates, organisers said the event drew between 100,000 and 300,000 people. Holding colorful banners, puppets and placards, they walked the streets surrounding the White House, U.S. Treasury and various monuments singing songs and shouting slogans promoting international peace and economic justice.
A feeder march and rally was organised by the Mobilisation for Global Justice, a coalition of activists demanding an end to the "economic violence" of the World Bank and IMF. Activists marched from Dupont Circle under the banner of "Another World Is Under Construction" in one of many independently organised actions planned to coincide with the anti-war demonstration. Thousands of police were deployed alongside the route of the march and at metro stations. Streets had been cordoned off at several points, limiting access to the city for commuters and sometimes would-be protesters.
Asked about the connection between the war and the World Bank and IMF, Virginia Setsheti of the Anti-Privatisation Forum in South Africa told IPS, "It is not just about war. It is about how many people die around the world because of unfair policies and actions -- a large part of which are economic."
"So it is not just the military injustice that we are facing. We need to connect the dots together," Setsheti said.

Pru notes "Washington protest biggest since Iraq war started" (The Socialist Worker):

Hundreds of thousands of people protested in Washington last Saturday showing that the movement against the Iraq war is ­growing in strength across the US.
Virginia Rodino, who was one of the United for Peace and Justice mobilising
co-ordinators for the protest, told Socialist Worker, "This was the biggest demonstration in the US since the 15 February 2003 protests.
"This was representative of the mood in the US. The protest was calling for the US troops to be brought home.
"There were many black people on the march, which reflected the aftermath of the impact of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans. There was a lot of anger and recognition of the Bush administration’s racism and class bias.
"Cindy Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed in Iraq, addressed the crowd, as did Respect MP George Galloway. They both received a brilliant reception. Many of the speakers gave anti-imperialist messages.
"There were three days of action, including a concert. It was really exciting to see 50,000 young people listening to the anti-war speeches at the concert.
"On Monday of this week thousands of people took part in non-violent direct action and lobbied senators and representaives asking them to support anti-war legislation.
"Events like the revelations of the Downing Street memo which showed that Bush and Blair planned the war, George Galloway's hearing at the US senate and Cindy Sheehan's camp at Bush's ranch have had an impact in the US."

[. . .]
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Pru also notes this on her local protests, "Military families on anti-war protest" (The Socialist Worker):

Philip Hewitt, a British soldier, was killed in Iraq ten weeks ago. His mother Susan Smith handed a letter in to Downing Street last Saturday calling on prime minister Tony Blair to bring the troops home.
Susan read her letter out at the rally in Hyde Park which concluded the anti-war march that day. "The Iraqi people see our soldiers as invaders. How many more must die before you listen? It is ten weeks today since my son was killed. There shouldn't be any more."
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James in Brighton e-mails to note Kim Sengupta's "Iraq war delayed Katrina relief effort, inquiry finds" (The Independent of London):

Relief efforts to combat Hurricane Katrina suffered near catastrophic failures due to endemic corruption, divisions within the military and troop shortages caused by the Iraq war, an official American inquiry into the disaster has revealed.
The confidential report, which has been seen by The Independent, details how funds for flood control were diverted to other projects, desperately needed National Guards were stuck in Iraq and how military personnel had to "sneak off post" to help with relief efforts because their commander had refused permission.
The shortcomings in dealing with Katrina have rocked George Bush's administration. Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has resigned from his post and polls show that a majority of Americans feel the President showed inadequate leadership.
The report was commissioned by the Office of Secretary of Defence as an "independent and critical review" of what went so wrong. In a hard-hitting analysis, it says: "The US military has long planned for war on two fronts. This is as close as we have come to [that] reality since the Second World War; the results have been disastrous."
The document was compiled by Stephen Henthorne, a former professor of the US Army's War College and an adviser to the Pentagon who was a deputy-director in the Louisiana relief efforts.

Gareth e-mails to note Neil MacDonald's "Shia-Kurdish pact at risk over Kirkuk" (England's Financial Times):

The Shia-Kurdish pact at the heart of Iraq's transitional government is threatening to split amid accusations by Iraq's president, a Kurd, that the Shia prime minister's parliamentary bloc broke a deal over oil-rich Kirkuk, which the Kurds claim as their historic capital.
President Jalal Talabani wanted Ibrahim al-Jaafari, prime minister, to resign so that Iraq's political process could move ahead, Mr Talabani's spokesman, Azad Jundiyani, said yesterday. Following repeated stop-gap trade-offs, the un-resolved rift over the ethnically mixed northern city has again re-emerged at a critical juncture this time in the run-up to the October 15 referendum on a contentious draft constitution.

DK e-mails to note an article we'll also excerpt from tomorrw. From Marian Blasberg and Anita Blasberg's "A Tale of Two Lives Destroyed by Abu Ghraib" (Germany's Der Spiegel):

On the day he lost his innocence before the eyes of the world, Sergeant Javal Davis was sitting in the mess hall at Victory Base in Abu Ghraib prison, eating a plate of rice and tuna fish. Davis ate mechanically, ignoring what the other soldiers were saying, occasionally glancing up at a TV screen.
It was April 28, 2004. Insurgents were still launching the occasional rocket-propelled grenade at their base near Baghdad, and CNN was broadcasting images from home: basketball, the White House, Wall Street. It was a normal day at Victory Base. But then the room suddenly went still. There was a man on the screen, his arms spread out and attached to electrical wires, his head covered with a sandbag. The headline read: "Scandal at Abu Ghraib." Other images followed, images of prisoners on dog leashes, of piles of naked, intertwining bodies.
Someone turned up the volume, and Javal Davis heard the reporter mention his name. A photo from his high-school yearbook flashed across the screen, a picture of a tall black boy with a friendly face and a big smile. Then the Secretary of Defense appeared, talking about seven degenerate soldiers who had brought shame upon the USA.
Now, 14 months later, Javal Davis sits in his attorney's office in Newark, New Jersey. He has had a dragon tattooed onto his upper arm and has grown a beard that seems out of place on his youthful face. Davis is unable to look directly at his conversation partner, and he rubs his fingers together when he speaks. He was released four months ago, the first of the nine soldiers America took to court and charged with dereliction of duty and conspiracy, with assault and sexual humiliation of prisoners.
[. . .]
Davis says that his country punished him for crimes over which he had no control. Instead, he says, the people who were responsible for creating the system of torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib should be brought to justice. Davis wants to talk and wants to set things right. He leafs through a white binder on the table in front of him. It contains documents from his life, and occasionally he picks out one of them -- an employee-of-the-month award, college transcripts, a character reference from the mayor of Roselle, New Jersey, where he is from.

Lynda e-mails to note Aljazeera's "Iraq affecting British army morale:"

Army morale and recruitment are suffering because troops are seen as "guilty by association" with Prime Minister Tony's Blair's decision to invade Iraq, Britain's top soldier has said.
General Sir Michael Walker, chief of the defence staff, on Saturday also said, in an interview with the Sunday Times, that Britain and the US will have to make do with a less-than-perfect outcome from the US-led war.

The March 2003 invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein initially helped to attract new recruits and lift morale in the armed forces, despite being unpopular among the British public, said Walker.

"There was an understanding by members of the armed services that this was not an all-hands-up, popular event across the country," he said.

"But I think at that stage they were able to decouple in their own minds, as I was, the fact that the country was not necessarily behind the strategic decision to go to war, but once our boys and girls were out there, doing their various things, they would support them in that role," Walker said.

"Now I think that's shifted a bit, if I am absolutely honest. Some of the opprobrium attached to the war is also attached to the fact that the armed services are taking part in it. We are, if you like, guilty by association with a decision to go to war that not the whole of this country enjoined."

Pru notes Tom Hayden's "George Bush is on the way down" (The Socialist Worker):

'The movement in the US has grown tremendously.
When Cindy Sheehan went to Crawford, Texas, and camped outside president Bush's ranch the media jumped. The president on vacation and the grieving mother outside -- it was the perfect image.
At first there were three or four people, but by the end of the month there was a whole community. It was most unexpected.
Today most Americans are for immediate withdrawal from Iraq. At the time of the invasion a lot of people thought that the toppling of Saddam Hussein might be a good idea. Now they think that too many have died, too much money has been wasted. We have to make room for these people in our movement.
The military families have played an important role in the US. There is no capacity to mobilise any military families in favour of the war. They turned up for a few hours at camp Crawford, but they were badly organised and quickly disappeared. The situation is very different from during the Vietnam War in that respect.
Iraq is a quagmire. The war appears to be unwinnable. The size of the Washington march reflects the feeling that there’s something to march for -- we’re on the up and Bush is on the down.
The leaderships of both parties in the US seem to think that we have to continue the war, for "strategic" reasons -- oil, Israel and so on.
The position John Kerry took during the election campaign was untenable. No one really agreed with what he was saying, although the movement backed him because if he had won it would have been seen as a defeat for Bush.
The leaders of the Democratic Party seem to be worried about their image from the time of Vietnam. I'm worried about that too -- but I see it as a pro-war image rather than an anti-war one.'
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