Thursday, November 17, 2005

Democracy Now: Falluja, white phosphorous, Michael Ratner; topic Woody: 'Dylan,' Danny Schechter, Arianna Huffington, Alexander Cockburn ....

JUAN GONZALEZ: And George Monbiot, this news is now beginning to spread on the corporate media here in the United States. But what's happening in Britain? Are you having similar battles between the corporate media and the internet?
GEORGE MONBIOT: Well, the corporate media has picked it up pretty well comprehensively, and they have messed it up pretty well comprehensively. The misreporting of this issue is second almost to none that I've ever come across before. They have managed to mix up the use of white phosphorus against military versus civilian targets. For example, repeatedly, I'm saying, in the media, that it's a war crime if it's used against civilians but not if it’s used against the military. The Chemical Weapons Convention does not mention the word civilian. It does not mention the word non-combatant. There is no distinction made. If you use white phosphorus as a weapon against human beings, that is a war crime. It doesn't matter whether those human beings are civilians. It doesn't matter whether they are military. It remains a war crime.
They've mixed up several other things, as well. And the result of this is that if we're not careful, we can see excuses made for the use of this weapon as a weapon of war. And the whole point of the Chemical Weapons Convention is to prevent that from recurring. If we look back to the first World War and saw how mustard gas and phosgene were used and saw in the subsequent commemorations of that war these lines and lines of men with their hands on each other's shoulders walking along, because they could not see, because they had been blinded by this gas or their lungs had been destroyed by this gas, the undermining of the Chemical Weapons Convention threatens to bring about the kind of gas warfare which we saw in the first World War and which we saw in the war between Iran and Iraq. It's absolutely essential that we get this story right and we make it completely impossible for states such as the United States or, indeed, any other, to use poison toxic chemicals as a weapon of war and to use it ever again.

The excerpt above is from today's Democracy Now! -- "Pentagon Reverses Position and Admits U.S. Troops Used White Phosphorous Against Iraqis in Fallujah" -- and was picked by Durham Gal and Markus. Democracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says):

Headlines for November 17, 2005
- Bush, Cheney Blast War Critics
- Agreement Reached on Bill to Renew Patriot Act
- CIA Flights Spark Concern in Europe, North Africa
- Report: US Facing Intense Fighting in Afghanistan
- US Contractor Charged For Iraq Graft
- Haiti Postpones Elections for Third Time
- New Documents Released on Nixon Bombing of Cambodia

Los Titulares de Hoy: Democracy Now!'s daily news summary translated into Spanish

Pentagon Reverses Position and Admits U.S. Troops Used White Phosphorous Against Iraqis in Fallujah
The U.S. government has now admitted its troops used white phosphorous as an incendiary weapon against Iraqis during the assault on Fallujah a year ago. Chemical weapons experts say such attacks are in violation of international law banning the use of chemical weapons. We speak with columnist George Monbiot and the news director of RAI TV, the Italian TV network that produced the film "Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre." [includes rush transcript]

Senate Reaches "Compromise" on Habeas Corpus that Could Still Strip Guantanamo Detainees of any Trial
The Senate this week approved what lawmakers hailed as a bipartisan "compromise" on legal rights for Guantanamo Bay detainees that can still strip them of a federal trial. We speak with attorneys Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights and David Rivkin who served in the administrations of President Reagan and George HW Bush.

Now for the news on Woody. We'll start with the subject of much e-mails, latter day Dylan.
Hot on the education beat our latter day Dylan types the following:

By the way, a word on Woodward: Succumbing to the joys of the tribe, liberals are now scoring the scribe as a store-bought, stenographer, Bush Admin lackey. It feels very good to say such things, but we have a somewhat different view—partly because we actually read Woodward’s last book, Plan of Attack. Yes, there are some silly, Bush-friendly anecdotes in it, several of which we discussed when we did extensive critiques of the book. (The George Tenet "slam dunk" anecdote is the most significant. We even suggested that Woodward must have included it as some sort of quid pro quo for access.) But uh-oh! The book is also full of material which shows the Admin is a very bad light.
In substantial detail, Woodward shows Cheney and Bush exceeding the state of the intelligence on Iraq starting in August 2002--and his portrait of Colin Powell preparing his UN report is deeply, deeply embarrassing to Powell. This book is full of material that incriminates the Admin. But few liberals have bothered to say this.
But then, you know how we liberals are! As George Bush has said, reading books can be "hard work"—and it seems that few of us bothered with Plan of Attack. Now we enjoy the pleasures of the tribe, crying, boo-hooing, and blubbering vastly about Vile Woodward’s deep perfidy. But what happened when Plan of Attack was released? Simple! Industrious conservatives grabbed the handful of Bush-friendly anecdotes ("slam dunk" in particular) and trumpeted these unlikely tales to the skies. Everyone on earth heard about them. And liberals, playing the role of the lazy grasshopper, did and said nothing about this. The most famous journalist in DC wrote a book full of Bush-bashing material. But reading books can be hard work. Today, we see a corollary: The joys of the tribe are quite easy.

What does that have to do with education? Not a damn thing. File it under another broken promise from our latter day Dylan if you'd like.

Did he critique the Tenet statement? Yes, he did. But our latter day Dylan embraced the book some days and derided it at other times. (He also apparently doesn't grasp that what looks like revelations to him produce smiles and comments of "he's so resolute" from Bully Boy's base.) What does any of that mean?

Well obviously it fits in with his principle where he can knock a male one day and then praise him (remember that women are trashed, he can't resist a good trashing, and they never have the option of a "resurrection" -- in his world Tina Turner would never have left the convention circuit). But I will say I am surprised. Woody is discussed. Not addressed, mind you.

He can't really address it because he is as compromised as Bob Woodward. I'm tired of it, latter day Dylan. Supposedly he was moving on to his education beat. But that apparently doesn't bring him enough readers. (And he's unable to make the arcane readable on that topic.) So as the crowds are getting restless he calls out "Blowin' In The Wind" to the band and rushes through a poorly rehearsed song.

Which is it? He's closing shop on other topics and focusing on education or not?

At what point does he explain his own connection to Plamegate? Why he's down played it from the start?

It's getting old, it's getting real damn old.

He was supposed to be a brave voice. Like Woody, people have puzzled over why he trashed the case from day one.

Woody went on Larry King weighing in on a topic, in a dismissive manner not unlike his own, and people wondered. Likewise, many people have wondered about him.

The reality please. The confession.

As for his comments today, reading books can be hard work. Which is why his "books" are the most superficial in the world. Our philosopher king, latter day Dylan, so concerned about education, wastes his time on badly written "books" by Woody. These are "books" only to the people shipping and carrying them.

I wouldn't call George Plimpton's transcription on the life of Edie Sedgwick a "book" and it's debatable how many in their right minds would applaud Woody's similar works as a "book."

He lobs one at "liberals" as well. He really enjoys doing that. He's probably regretting that he couldn't also lob another one at The New York Review of Books. The anti-intellectual, latter day Dylan flies without a net and continues to turn out drivel that would make Elisabeth Bumiller, on her worst day, blush.

Who's playing "Hey rube!" here? It seems he is. (Or maybe he's so out of touch that he honestly assumes the nation still carries Woody to the beach each summer.) And on "Hey rube" -- would it kill him to credit? Hunter S. Thompson was using that phrase in the eighties. It popped up, all over the place, when he died. (Including at this site.) He's latched onto it and never noted where it came from.

Leaving latter day Dylan, Woody is a bad writer. I've stated that here many times and it didn't take the latest development for me to state it. Wired is a piece of ____ and for most people it (and the controversy around it) blew the idea that Woody was a "reporter" once and for all. He whined his side of the story to Rolling Stone in real time. That can be boiled down as "I just print the facts . . . as told to me." There's no effort to determine truth. Did someone else say (to him) something similar? Then it's "true!"

How damaged was Woody by Wired? It comes out, the film, from a B-studio, with B-talent (apologies to Patti), no name and a "premiere" that was laughable. In our latter day Dylan's world, this is all news to him because if it wasn't written up in the Washington Post or the New York Times (in the national sections only -- of course!) it didn't happen.

I have no idea who the school marm is clucking at today and don't care. This entry is being dictated and I said "stop" at the end of the excerpt (it was being read to me over the phone). I understand he then goes into education. But he leads with Woody. That's where he places his emphasis. As he continues to live out the last act in his self-written Greek tragedy, it's no surprise that he identifies with Woody. Freud wrote of the criminal's compulsion to confess.

And our latter day Dylan can't stop returning to the scene of his own crime, where he blew the trust he has with readers by not disclosing. It's why people scratch their heads wondering why he writes from the angle he does on Plamegate.

We did a piece on him at The Third Estate Sunday Review. I killed the final paragraphs. (Actually, I said pull my name from the piece if the final paragraphs are included.) I think it's fairly obvious what latter day Dylan's problems are in that piece, but the final paragraphs put it in bold print. He needs to explain his connections, he doesn't need them explained for him.

Latter day Dylan should have either not written one word on Plamegate or he should have done a little explaining to his readers. (And that's not a call for more e-mails to either Rebecca or myself.) Latter day Dylan trades in tired lines, so here's one for him, "Loose lips sink ships."
They sunk yours. But only because you allowed yourself to be compromised. If you'd been honest, people would have said, "Oh that's why he dismisses Plamegate!" Instead, for years now, people have wondered and doubted their own better instincts because the "objective" latter day Dylan was offering his "detached" and "uninvolved" criticism. It's all so very Woody, no wonder latter day Dylan can't keep from identifying.

I can bite my tongue on a number of things. Including this summer's high profile firing that the official line plays one way but the unofficial profile screams National Enquirer headline. But latter day Dylan needs to get honest or stop writing about Plamegate.

Walk on,

Now let's switch to the reality-based world and something Zach e-mailed (by a journalist -- actually by two, but the first name is the one that pisses off latter day Dylan), Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair's "The Long, Long Fall of Bob Woodward" (CounterPunch):

It's been a devastating fall for what are conventionally regarded as the nation's two premier newspapers, the New York Times and the Washington Post. The Times's travails and the downfall of its erstwhile star reporter, Judy Miller, have been newsprint's prime soap opera since late spring and now, just when we were taking a breather before the Libby trial, the Washington Post is writhing with embarrassment over the multiple conflicts of interest of its most famous staffer, Bob Woodward, best known to the world as Nixon's nemesis in the Watergate scandal.
On Monday of this week Woodward quietly made his way to the law office of Howard Shapiro, of the firm of Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale and Doar, and gave a two-hour deposition to Plamegate prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, a man he had denounced on tv the night before Scooter Libby's indictment as "a junkyard dog of a prosecutor".
Woodward's deposition had been occasioned by a call to Fitzgerald from a White House official on November 3, a week after Libby had been indicted. The official told Fitzgerald that the prosecutor had been mistaken in claiming in his press conference that Libby had been the first to disclose the fact that Joseph Wilson's wife [ie Valerie Plame] was in the CIA. The official informed Fitzgerald that he himself had divulged Plame's job to Woodward in a mid-June interview, about a week before Libby told Miller the same thing.
Seeing his laborious constructed chronology collapse in ruins, weakening his perjury and obstruction case against Libby, Fitzgerald called Woodward that same day, November 3. Woodward, the Washington Post's assistant managing editor, no doubt found the call an unwelcome one, he had omitted to tell any of his colleegues at the Post that he'd been the first journalist to be on the receiving end of a leak from the White House about Plame. He'd kept his mouth shut while two of his colleagues, Walter Pincus and Glenn Kessler had been hauled before Fitzgerald. He only told Post editor Len Downie a few days before Libby was indicted.
Shortly after the call from Fitzgerald. Woodward told Downie that he would have to testify. On Wednesday the Post carried a somewhat acrid news story along with Woodward's account of his testimony. Later in the day Howard Kurtz posted a commentary on the Post's website. It's clear from the news story and Kurtz's piece that his colleagues find Woodward's secretive conduct unbecoming (Downie tamely said it was a "mistake") and somewhat embarassing, given all the huff and puff about Judy "Miss Run Amok" Miller's high-handed ways with her editors.
And just as Miller and her editors differed strongly on whether the reporter had told them what she was up to, so too did Woodward's account elicit a strenuous challenge from the Post's long-time national security correspondent, Walter Pincus.
In Woodward's account of his testimony (which he took care to have vetted and later publicly approved by the Post's former editor Ben Bradlee) he wrote that he told Fitzgerald that he had shared this information -- Plame's employment with the CIA -- with Pincus. But Pincus is adamant that Woodward did no such thing. When the Post's reporters preparing Wednesday's story quizzed him about Woodward's version Pincus answered, "Are you kidding? I certainly would have remembered that."

We'll now note Marci's highlight and we'll note that the author hasn't checked her bravery at the door (more on that in a bit), Arianna Huffington's "Woodward: From Watergate Hero to Plamegate Goat:"

Bob Woodward. What a career arc. From exposing a presidential cover-up in Watergate to covering up his role in Plamegate. And being forced to apologize to his own paper. And asking a colleague, Walter Pincus, not to mention Woodward's role in the story. And failing to tell his editor that he had vital information about a major story.
And, to bottom it out, doing the TV and radio rounds, minimizing the scandal as "
laughable," "an accident", "nothing to it" and denigrating Fitzgerald as "disgraceful" and "a junkyard dog" without ever once divulging that he was not just an observer of the CIA leak case but a recipient -- perhaps the first -- of the leak.
Hear that hissing noise? That's the sound of the air being let out of Woodward's reputation. Especially now that he's decided to
challenge Pincus to a round of credibility one-on-one. My money's on Pincus, who was appropriately skeptical about the administration’s WMD claims while Woodward was writing hagiography about the brave president and his fearless aides.
It's hard to know who's happier today, Scooter Libby or Bill Keller.
I called Carl Bernstein to ask what he thought of his old partner’s behavior. He was loyal as ever but he did say something very revealing -- and unintentionally damning. "This investigation," he told me, "has cast a constant searchlight that the White House can't turn off the way it has succeeded in turning off the press. So their methodology and their dishonesty and their disingenuousness -- particularly about how we went to war -- as well as their willingness to attack and rough up people who don’t agree with them are now there for all to see. They can't turn off this searchlight, which is shining on a White House that runs a media apparatus so sophisticated in discrediting its critics it makes the Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Ziegler press shop look like a small-time operation." And these are the very thugs that Woodward was protecting while attacking the guy operating the searchlight.

Arianna Huffington's not saying, "Nothing to see here." So why is CJR Daily? (Newly retooled as "The Audit.") They have one of their "delightful" blog reports (that is sarcasm) that has the date of November 16th but wasn't up for anyone to read yesterday. (They'll probably pin that on the retooling.) And?

Nothing else as I dictate this. "Real Time Media Coverage" their new slogan boasts. (Disclosure, I know three people affiliated with CJR.) A piece bears the headline "What Isn't Reported Is As Important As What Is" and it can be forgiven for not mentioning Woody since it was written (and posted) on the 15th.

But what isn't reported is as important as what is. So where's CJR comments on Woody? They were running at the mouth when it came to Judith Miller. My guess (take it for what it's worth and it does include leaks) it's not about sexism, it's about a reluctance to take on the reputation of Woody, an overinflated reputation. They need to find their voice.

They aren't the only ones. While I'll give CJR the benefit of the doubt (based on leaks) that it's not a case of critiquing Miller because bash the bitch is an American sport, the silence on the regarding Woody is unsettling. Iconic though Woody may be, the statue tumbled long ago (pulled down not by US forces but by his own work) and while people look for comment and find only silence, questions are raised.

They're raised at the Post where the fury remains. They're raised outside of the silence that seems to have settled when the critique's focus would be an "institution." Woodward's career trajectory, long ignored, is the critique of our modern day press. From bravery to access with softballs and (to steal from Norman Solomon) volley balls lobbed carefully to him. Downie may not care for the criticism but, as stressed repeatedly in phone calls, Woodward is not the paper and it's past time the paper's resources were channeled into propping up his "disgraceful" career.

Rebecca noted the difference between his scoops (none) and those of one of his contemporaries. Seymour Hersh continues to file journalism that matters. Lap dog Woody hasn't made a difference in decades. It goes to all that's wrong with the press. Where Woody's drug out for the chat & chews to weigh in on what matters as though, since Watergate, he's written one word on what matters.

Judith Miller could only exist in a forum that rewarded Bob Woodward. Is that hard to fathom?
Check out Danny Schechter's "'All the President's Men' (Ongoing . . .)" (News Dissector, Media

I never trusted Bob Wooodward the former Navy intelligence man who went from a beat reporter on the Washington Post to an editor with ongoing access into the inner sanctum of the Bush Administration. He has admitted in the past holding back news he learned so that he could exploit his findings in a books he could profit from. Many of those used fictional techniques to disguise sources and promote his own aura as the ultimate insider.

Also from, Mia e-mailed to note Rory O'Connor's "Woodward: Mr. Run Amok?" (Media Is Plural, Rory O'Connor's Blog):

Shades of Little Miss Run Amok! Information too sensitive to share with editors…co-workers who don’t recall conversations you claim to have had with them…Say it ain't so, Bob!
Unfortunately it is so, and Woodward has apparently once again put his newspaper at risk for his own personal profit and aggrandizement. It's been evident for some time that his book-writing career conflicts with his reporting at the Washington Post, and it is well past time for Woodward to choose one or the other, instead of trying to have his cake and eat it too.
As Sydney Schanberg wrote recently in the Village Voice, "Critics in the press have suggested that Woodward is too close to some of his sources to provide readers with an undiluted picture of their activities.
"His remarks about the Fitzgerald investigation convey the attitude of a sometime insider reluctant to offend -- and that is hardly a definition of what a serious, independent reporter is supposed to be. It's a far piece from Watergate."
For example, as Woodward testified in his deposition, he discussed Iraq policy with Libby on June 27, 2003 as part of his research for yet another "insider's" book about the Bush administration. According to the Post, “He said he does not believe Libby said anything about Plame.”
But Woodward also told Fitzgerald, based on an 18-page list of questions he planned to ask Libby, (which included the phrases "yellowcake" and "Joe Wilson’s wife") that it "is possible he asked Libby about Plame or her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson." Woodward also said, however, that he "had no recollection" of mentioning the pair to Libby.
Let's recap, shall we? Woodward says he "does not believe" Libby said anything about Plame; he has "no recollection" of mentioning Plame or her husband to Libby; but it "is possible" that he asked Libby about both. And although he told Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie nothing, he says he did tell Post reporter Walter Pincus that Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA as a WMD analyst. But Pincus says Woodward recalls nothing of the sort.
Got that? Clear as mud, right?

Melinda highlighted Media Matters' "Wash. Post's Woodward's misleading, disingenuous statements on Plame investigation:"

While Kurtz refers to "some instances" in which Downie said Woodward violated the Post's guidelines, there were in fact numerous appearances on television and radio in which Woodward attacked Fitzgerald's investigation, defended reporters, or downplayed the significance of the alleged conduct of administration figures. Woodward described the investigation as an assault on First Amendment protections of the press. On the July 11 edition of CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, Woodward claimed Fitzgerald's investigation was "just running like a chain saw right through the lifeline that reporters have to sources who will tell you the truth, what's really going on," and was "undermining the core function in journalism." He also warned: "We better wake up to what's going on in the seriousness on the assault on the First Amendment that's taking place right before our eyes." On the July 17 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources, Woodward said, "[T]he idea of the government and special prosecutors monkeying around with the relationship that reporters have with sources is a very, very bad thing."
Woodward's criticisms of Fitzgerald's "assault on the First Amendment" were primarily in response to the jailing of Miller for contempt of court after she refused to reveal who divulged Plame's identity to her. For example, during a taped interview on the July 13 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country, Woodward said: "Judy Miller should not be in jail. I think the judge and the special prosecutor in this alleged CIA leak case made a mistake. It's really vital to have confidential sources. I think Judy Miller is doing the right thing. And I think she should be freed and they should reconsider this."

[. . .]
At no point in making these comments did Woodward note that he had a specific and personal interest in Fitzgerald's inquiry: Even as Fitzgerald was subpoenaing reporters, Woodward knew that his testimony, in which he too would presumably be forced to reveal his sources, would have been significant to the investigation.
On several occasions, Woodward dismissed the controversy as much ado about nothing or opined that he saw no evidence of a crime -- again, without disclosing that he had a personal interest in the course the investigation took and in an ultimate determination that it was, in fact, "much ado about nothing." On the July 7 broadcast of National Public Radio's Fresh Air, Woodward said: "There was no national security threat. There was no jeopardy to her life. There was no nothing. When I think all of the facts come out in this case, it's going to be laughable because the consequences are not that great."

His comments that he feared being called to testify seem strange given that he claimed he would be willing to serve some of Judith Miller's time for her.

KeShawn writes a strong e-mail noting that if Woody was a woman or a person of color, the pile up would be much stronger from the mainstream. He notes that Janet Cook left the Post in disgrace but Woody (her editor) remained. Cook left, for those with short memories, over "creative writing" passed off as "reporting." With any editor other than Woody, that might have been caught. It wasn't.

Zach asks if Woody takes notes or tapes. He does both (unless he's asked to shut off the recorder.)

I believe, and am not able to check this out right now due to being on a phone and driving, when 60 Minutes was promoting the book Plan of Attack, they boasted that they had read the transcripts and listened to Woodward's tapes of his interviews.

Ideally, there will be entries today; however, the funeral and the memorial were for two different people and last night, after reading e-mails, I just wanted to crawl into bed.

Thanks to ___ for taking dictation. The e-mail address for this site is