Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Other Items

The Bush administration notified federal trial judges in Washington that it would soon ask them to dismiss all lawsuits brought by prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, challenging their detentions, Justice Department officials said Tuesday.
The action means that the administration is moving swiftly to take advantage of an amendment to the military bill that President Bush signed into law last Friday. The amendment strips federal courts from hearing habeas corpus petitions from Guantanamo detainees.
On Tuesday, the Justice Department sent notices to all the federal judges in Washington who have cases involving challenges brought by Guantanamo inmates, informing them of the new amendment. The officials said the department would file formal notices within several days asking the judges to dismiss more than 160 cases involving at least 300 detainees.

[. . .]
In addition to arguing in court, the administration separately pressed its case in Congress and found a strong ally in Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who said the challenges brought by Guantanamo inmates were frivolous and were clogging the courts. Mr. Graham, along with Senators Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, and Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, sponsored the amendment to the Defense Act eliminating habeas corpus jurisdiction in federal courts.

The above is from Neil A. Lewis' "U.S. to Seek Dismissal of Guantanamo Suits" in this morning's New York Times. What's missing from the article? Among other things, missing is the voice of any attorney representing a detainee. (Like Elaine, by the way, I think it's past time for a new term. "Detainee" doesn't really convey several years of imprisonment. I'm not sure that "inmates" is the proper term, and not sure that it isn't, but "detainee" makes it sound as though you've been stopped as you went through customs and forced to declare an item or two.)

For information on the Court case regarding the detainees, you can check out the Center for Constitutional Rights -- specifically this page which provides a summary of the issues involved in Rasul v. Bush. As a public service to the Times, we'll list the attornies at the Center for Constitutional Rights who composed the legal team successfully arguing that case:

Michael Ratner, President
Joseph Margulies, Cooperating Attorney and lead counsel
Jeffrey Fogel, Legal Director
Barbara Olshansky, Assistant Legal Director
Steven Macpherson Watt, Human Rights Fellow
Shane Kadidal, Staff Attorney
Irene Baghoomians, former Staff Attorney

And to further aid the paper of record, we'll note that contact information for the Center for Constitutional Rights can be found at the bottom of the home page.

As noted previously, Brandon and Cindy both e-mailed to highlight Norman Solomon's "Media New Year's Resolutions for 2006" (Common Dreams). Brandon chose this excerpt because "I was thinking about Ruth's latest report." From Solomon's article:

Public radio executives:
As a counterpoint to the daily national program "Marketplace," public radio can widen its news repertoire by developing a show called "Laborplace."

[. . .]
Terry Gross, "Fresh Air":
If you want to continue with over-reliance on reporters from mainstream corporate-owned news outlets like the New York Times and the Washington Post, you don't have to act like they're practitioners of fearless journalism. Try asking them tough questions about standard media evasions.

Lyle e-mails to note that Seth selected Barbara Boxer as the person of the year for 2005. You can read that entry by clicking here.

We'll note Danny Schechter's latest -- "MEDIAOCRACY 2006: OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW" (which can be found at BuzzFlash, the link used, and at

The media consuming public seems to have an unlimited appetite for new media, but it is not just technologies that die but people's relationships to them. With more to watch and more to experience, attention spans shrink with more distractions designed to divert our attentions away from programming that asks us to care about our society in one way or another.
Increasingly, even as it gets slicker, the public that is supposed to like what they see, is turning it off and tuning it out. Our media is being confronted by a public that isn't very happy with its output. We know this from surveys that span the political spectrum that be reported but are rarely dwelt on. The last thing media outlets want to report is why the public is turning against them. In a media designed for "tune-in," tune-out seems to be the trend. Opinion surveys report wide spread dissatisfaction--see recent reports by the Pew Center in American Life--but other statistics are more compelling--the statistics that report fewer viewers watching network news programs and readers buying newspapers.
Match that up with the comparatively low voter turnout in The US and you find that in ours, the most media rich nation on earth, democratic participation is shrinking. Many critics have criticized the media for actually depoliticizing politics and in the process undermining democracy.
Media scandals seem to be erupting more frequently than political scandals, and the credibility of major media continues to decline. One Pew Center public opinion poll in one of those rare moments when members of the public were asked for their views -- found that as many as 70% of the people asked expressed dissatisfaction with the media.
Nearly 70 percent were angry, but for different reasons. Nearly half think the media is too left wing -not surprising after years of the Republican Party's punditocracy trashing the so-called "liberal media." The other half blames the right wing for souring them on media, pointing to Fox News and a tendency for big media to defer to big government.
In the general public, there is a growing consensus of complaint as media insiders puzzle over slipping ratings or more young people abandoning news networks for comedy channels for their news. There seems to be a growing anti-media consensus at the very time that media institutions seem to be more powerful than ever.

Remember that Rod gives us the heads up for today's Democracy Now!:

An in-depth look at the growing scandal surrounding lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Earlier today Abramoff pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges of conspiracy, tax evasion and mail fraud. He has now agreed to cooperate in a federal investigation that threatens to take down many members of Congress.

If this seems brief, until the "pipe" problem with Blogger is fixed, we'll probably be going with one highlight per morning article (one article highlighted outside the Times).

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