Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Other Items

Eric Lichtblau's "In Legal Shift, U.S. Charges Detainee in Terrorism Case" in this morning's New York Times is a perfect example of all that is wrong with the Times. Read this article and then read "Libby Quits Post" by David Johnston and Richard W. Stevenson (no link, I've saved that edition of the paper) and you see that when Scooter is indicted, the reporters take great care to note allegations and charges.

Things are a bit looser when it comes to Jose Padilla. After noting the indictment, Licthblau then gives you allegations presented as facts. I'm confused as to when Lichtblau was exposed to evidence or when he had time to vet it. But then, the article seems confused as to whom determines guilt in the United States -- the courts or the press.

When Larry Franklin was charged, someone I have no reason to "stick up for," I noted that I hoped the Times would be sure to use the appropriate wording. Not only did they, but they've demonstrated no interest at all in investigating on their own (I don't consider reading The New Yorker to be investigating). Franklin got the benefits our system of justice should provide to all. In Lichtblau's article, Padilla doesn't.

I don't know Padilla. I've long advocated here for him to be charged or released. Hopefully, justice can now move forward and Padilla's innocence or guilt will be determined. But until that happens, it would probably be a good idea for the Times not to jump the gun.

If that's too difficult for them, they might just try substituting "George Bush" for "Jose Padilla" and they'll find themselves bending over backwards to argue his innocence -- even in the face of obvious lies.

In the meantime, where's the legal analysis? The paper loves providing those. Held without access to anyone for over two years (including his lawyer), held for over three years without being charged, finally charged (in the face of further court wins for the defense -- which would be court losses for the government), the case cries for a legal analysis. (I'm speaking of the sort of legal analysis Linda Greenhouse often provides. Adam Liptak provides a "news analysis" and we spotlighted it in the previous entry.)

That would be the old case, the case that Alberto Gonzales appears to be closing now as they move with new charges into the US court system.

Another thing the article leaves out? J-Ass' breathless terrorist alert re: Padilla is noted in the article. It's even noted that he makes that breathless announcement from Moscow. What's not noted is what the nonsense interrupted. Real news. Anyone remember what that was?

For the record, Padilla was arrested in May, 2002 (as the Times notes) and J-Ass did make an announcement "after" (J-Ass is Dallas' nickname for John Ashcroft, explanation for new members). But "after" was June 10, 2002. And it was "after" Colleen Rowley's Congressional testimony had caused serious questions about the Justice Department.

It should also be noted that Padilla was not originally held as an "enemy combatant" but as a "material witness."

On the article, apparently Lichtblau or the Times exist in a very Anglo world (shocking!) because they feel the need to give you the pronuciation of "Padilla." As though it were a strange word to many Americans. As though people sit around saying, "Hey, Doris, you hear about that Josie PAD-dle-a?"

Considering the article's problems, if someone wants to make the charge that the Times adds the pronuciation to "foreignize" Padilla (an American citizen), I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of heads nodded in agreement.

Halfway into the article, Donna Newman, Padilla's attorney is finally given space to speak:

"In one respect, I'm thrilled by this decision because, from Day 1, I've been saying, 'Indict my client,' " Ms. Newman said in an interview.
"But on the other hand, the timing is somewhat suspect, and I think it's egregious when Attorney General Gonzales says that Padilla's being held for three and a half years in solitary confinement is irrelevant," Ms. Newman said. "I think it's very relevant to how we are viewed around the world, and to what authority the president has to detain any citizen, almost on a whim, without charging him."

Ralph Blumentahal's "Judge in DeLay Case Refuses Request to Begin Trial Soon" tells you that Tom DeLay's attempt to rush his case through court (in a purported attempt to regain his "leadership" post according to the article, other theories are that he wants to get it out of the way and put some space between it and the 2006 elections).

Elisabeth Bumiller's "Two Turkeys Pardoned, With First-Class Tickets " tells you:
"With Vice President Dick Cheney at his side, President Bush pardoned two Thanksgiving turkeys . . ." But relax, this isn't about Plamegate and Bully Boy didn't just pardon himself and Cheney. It was Marshmallow and Yam. This isn't news. This is ceremony. It happens every year. It's sad to see the Times waste space on this nonstory.

Gareth and Pru both point out that Alan Cowell tells you about the Daily Mirror's article in today's New York Times even though it broke in time to make Tuesday's paper (due to the time difference and the fact that the article was available online). Pru offers the opinion that Cowell reads the British press "quite well" but wonders if that really justifies the expense of him being in London since there is nothing in the article, including quotes, that she hasn't seen in the British press and "usually in more depth"?

(Democracy Now! noted the article yesterday. For anyone late to this topic, a leaked memo, reportedly a transcription of a conversation between Bully Boy and Tony Blair, led to a story in London's Daily Mirror asserting that Bully Boy wanted to attack Aljazeera -- is saying "again" too much? -- but Blair persuaded him not to.)

Belinda e-mails to note Ian Fisher and Laurie Goodstein's "In Strong Terms, Rome Is to Ban Gays as Priests:"

The document appears to allow ordination only for candidates who experienced "transitory" homosexual tendencies that were "clearly overcome" at least three years before ordination as a deacon, the last step before priesthood. It does not define "overcome." Several critics worried that that language would make it nearly impossible for men who believe their basic orientation is gay - but who are celibate - to become priests.

Elaine was pleased to see the following in the article: "Experts have noted that is incorrect to equate pedophilia with homosexuality."

Yazz e-mails to note Ralph Nader's "What Do Democrats Stand For?" (CounterPunch):

With the Bush regime reeling from its own derelictions and falling in the national polls, the question most frequently put to the leading Democrats is, "What do the Democrats stand for?"
This is the question that Tim Russert asked Howard Dean, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, on Meet the Press recently. Mr. Dean responded that the Democrats do not control the House, the Senate or the White House and that, "right now it's not our job to give out's our job to stop thiscorrupt and incompetent administration from doing more damage to America." He added that the Democrats had "plenty of time to show Americans what our agenda is and we will long before the '06 elections".
This is Mr. Dean strapped to the mast by his superiors in the Congress, where fear of the Republicans supercedes the Democrats' loathing of them. When their most senior member on the House military appropriations committee, Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), a double-decorated Vietnam veteran and their most untouchable member by the Republican smear machine, came out last week for "immediate withdrawal" (meaning over six months) of U.S. soldiers from Iraq, the Democratic Party caucus did not come out in support of his position. This is the case even though most Democrats privately agree with Rep. Murtha, as does a growing majority of the American people.
The Republicans continue to taunt the cowardly Democrats by making them vote on a resolution for immediate termination without explaining what it means. The Democrats watch the Republican implode, but by not advancing their own agenda for America they find themselves also low in the polls.

Mayra e-mails to note TV News Lies' "THE OUTRAGEOUS SILENCE OFDUMB AND DUMBER!:"

Somehow, in the past few weeks, the roof has caved in on the Bush White House. Somehow, despite the arrogant belief that they could get away with anything, the Bush team is up against the proverbial wall. And somehow, for the first time in all these years, people are asking questions.
But questions are not enough, as Special Counsel Fitzgerald discovered in the Plame case. They are worthless without the answers, and a measured silence can assure that they remain little more than enigmas. And so, we see the efficacy of the Dumb and Dumber routine by our leaders. They refuse to speak to us. They refuse to answer our questions. They remain mute about the most important issues that this nation has faced in generations. And they get away with it.
But, in reality, that silence is totally and abjectly unacceptable. As elected officials, our leaders are accountable to every single one of us. Their actions must be consistent with the provisions of the Constitution they swore to uphold, and they must answer any and all questions about the decisions they make. That's not a choice they have. It's an obligation of their office.
President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have failed miserably in that obligation. They cannot go on doing so. It is time that they are forced to come before this nation to explain the failures of their policies and to clarify their roles in the crimes that have been committed on their watch.
Among a very long list of misdeeds, these two men MUST, at the very least, clearly and fully explain the following:
The discrepancies and contradictions in the official version of the attacks of 9/11..
The roles played by members of
PNAC in influencing the decision to invade Iraq.
The lies and distortions repeatedly told to the nation and the world about Iraq’s ability and intention to attack the US and its neighbors.
The deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians and the refusal to reveal the number of civilian deaths and injuries.
The use of outlawed weapons in Iraq, such as depleted uranium shells and napalm.
The inordinate
profits gleaned by Halliburton and its subsidiaries in Iraq, and the tens of billions of dollars that have gone missing.
The torture and abuse of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo, and the secret transfer of prisoners to nations that openly condone torture.
The lack of proper armor and other equipment for our military personnel in combat.
The total breakdown of reconstruction projects in Iraq, and the continuing lack of adequate supplies of water and electricity to the people of Iraq.
The continuing increase in number and sophistication of insurgent attacks
The unending deaths of American and coalition troops, and Iraqi civilians.
The absence of any plan to stop the increasing chaos, or of any exit strategy.
The total breakdown of FEMA and all response services during hurricane Katrina
The role of every single high ranking official in the White House in the outing of Valeria Plame, including the President and the Vice President.
Don’t hold your breath. It’s not going to happen, at least not now. George Bush and Dick Cheney are not clamoring for air time to answer questions about their dismal policies. But don't despair either. There is hope just over the horizon, in – of all places - the White House Rose Garden.

We'll note Danny Schechter's "Debating Iraq: A Murtha Moment and the Slide to An Exit" (

The much-maligned Mr. Marx said history often begins as tragedy and repeats itself as farce. That was never more true than last Friday night as we watched the great Iraq war "debate." Those of us with the stomach to do so saw the consequences of years of increasingly polarized partisanship in our Congress. It was as manipulated and managed an episode of theater that I have ever seen. It was more like a fraternity food fight than an honest discourse on all sides.
Even the Washington Post, the local organ of media power, was disgusted, noting: "Aggressive challenges to the Bush administration's military and political strategy -- even calls for an immediate withdrawal of troops, such as that made by Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) on Thursday -- must be part of that democratic discussion. Yet what we've mainly seen during the past two weeks is a shameful exercise in demagoguery and name-calling."
That's because no one is really saying what they believe. The Democrats want out but are afraid to say so and the self-styled patriots see the end coming but need someone to blame beside themselves. The drama on the hill represented a triumph of message point politics with thoroughly robotic and irrelevant cliché-ridden speeches on the Republican side with Congress member after Congress member playing at patriotism by finger pointing.
It was matched I am afraid, by equally vitriolic opportunism by leading Democrats who had blindly supported the war and now avoided talking about the truth of what their hawkish colleague Mr. Murtha was talking about. Instead they defended his character and military record, but rarely backed his courageous call for withdrawal.
The "debate" was a transparent maneuver by the Bush lovers to set up a straw man with a phony resolution to prove how stupid the usually hawkish Murtha was to suggest that redeployment and withdrawal was now called for to save what face we can in a losing war in Iraq.
The response bizarrely echoed the days when Senator Joe McCarthy took on the US Army with suggestions that they were infiltrated by reds. The Army won that encounter. And make no mistake about it, Murtha is today a political stand-in for a silenced military, which is warning us that the fight is lost. He was on Meet the Press revealing that his information comes from leaders of the Pentagon.

And Lynda suggests this excerpt from Democracy Now!'s "Colin Powell's Former Chief of Staff Col. Wilkerson on Prewar Intel, Torture and How a White House 'Cabal' Hijacked U.S. Foreign Policy:"

AMY GOODMAN: Then Secretary of State, Colin Powell, speaking at the United Nations February 5, 2003. The Iraqi chemical engineer Powell referred to is an informant codenamed "Curveball." In a major article this past weekend, The Los Angeles Times reported five senior officials from Germany's federal intelligence service say they warned U.S. intelligence that information provided by Curveball could not be trusted or confirmed. The L.A. Times reports the C.I.A. corroborated Curveball's story with three sources. Two had ties to Ahmed Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress. All three turned out to be frauds. The German authorities also told The Los Angeles Times that the informant suffered from emotional and mental problems and was not psychologically stable. Lieutenant Wilkerson, your response, and your involvement in the preparation of this absolutely key speech in the lead-up to the invasion?
COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON: Well, I must tell you that when I heard Secretary Powell uttering those words yet again, my heart sank another inch or two. I have said before, I'll say it again, it was a low point in my professional career. I was in charge of the task force at the Secretary's orders to put together his presentation on 5 February, 2003 at the U.N. Security Council, and I spent six, seven days and nights at the Central Intelligence Agency barely sleeping, as did my team, and then two days in New York with the same routine, putting this production together.
And I have read the stories, and I have heard people in the government who now continue to talk to me, talk about Curveball. I have also heard them talk about Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, whose story also, gained under other than Geneva Convention interrogation techniques, has now been recanted. That was the story that connected al-Qaeda and Baghdad very closely prewar. I have heard that story blown out of the water. Now I have heard the Curveball story blown out of the water.
I have no other defense than to say I sat in the room with the Secretary of State and the Director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet, and listened to George Tenet and listened to John McLaughlin, his deputy, the D.D.C.I., and listened to his best national intelligence officers assure the Secretary of State, assure me, that this was a sound source, that indeed it was multiple-sourced, that everything we were seeing about the biological weapons labs was accurate. We could depend on it. It was a slam dunk. And now I have serious questions about -- after reading the L.A. Times piece, the Washington Post piece, I have serious questions in my mind about how we got to that point, because no one ever said a word to us during that intense preparation period, about Ibn Shaykh al-Libi's possible lack of veracity, because of the way he was interrogated, or more seriously, about Curveball and the doubts that existed in a number of places about his veracity.

If you missed Democracy Now! yesterday, you missed that and a lot more. (Transcripts, audio and video are available on the website for Democracy Now! free of charge, no registration, so you can read, listen or watch.) Be sure to check out the latest broadcast of Democracy Now! today. (Democracy Now! broadcasts Monday through Friday. It's an hourly news program that you can hear on radio or watch on TV. It also broadcasts live online and after the live broadcast, that day's episode is available in audio or video form. In addition transcripts are posted. And, as Maria would remind you, the opening segment is headline stories which are available in audio or transcript in both English and Spanish.)

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