Monday, March 13, 2006

Democracy Now: Remembering Tom Fox, examining Milosevic; NYT punked

Latino War Resisters Begin 241-Mile March For Peace
And Iraqi war resisters Pablo Paredes, Camilo Mejia and Aidan Delgado as well as Fernando Suarez del Solar, whose son was killed in Iraq, have begun a 241-mile march for peace from Tijuana, Mexico to San Francisco. The march is inspired by Gandhi's 1930 Salt March protesting British imperialism. Historian Howard Zinn said, "This is one of the most significant actions taken yet to dramatize the movement against the war -- especially because it calls attention to the Latino population, the loss of Latino life in the war, and the unrecognized Latino opposition to the war."

U.S. Criticized for Trying Detainee Held Since He Was 15
In news from Guantanamo Bay, human rights lawyers will be asking the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights today to suspend the military tribunal of a Canadian citizen who has been held at the military prison since he was 15 years old. Lawyers said Omar Khadr is the first person in modern world history to face a military commission for alleged crimes committed as a child.

Senior GOP Staffer Implicated in Abu Ghraib Scandal
In news on the torture scandal at Abu Ghraib -- a senior staffer to a Republican congressman has revealed that he was formally reprimanded by the Army for his role in what happened at the Iraqi prison. According to Christopher Brinson was directly in charge of Charles Graner and others who were later prosecuted for abuse at Abu Ghraib. Brinson now serves as deputy chief of staff for Alabama Republican Congressman Mike Rogers.

Elite UK Soldier Refuses to Fight w/ U.S. in Iraq
In Britain, an elite SAS soldier is refusing to return to fight in Iraq in what he describes as a morally wrong war of aggression. The soldier, Ben Griffin, is believed to be the first SAS soldier to refuse to go into combat and to leave the army on moral grounds. Griffin said he refused to fight alongside U.S. troops because they viewed Iraqis as "untermenschen" -- the Nazi term for races regarded as sub-human. He also accused U.S. troops of committing "dozens of illegal acts" in Iraq.

The above four items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Liang, Jordan, West and Brad. Liang was the first one to note the march of Camilo Mejia, Aidan Delgado and Pablo Paredes; however, 15 other members did as well. In terms of the other selections, it was a difficult day because there were more suggestions than usual. Point? There are many headlines worth highlight, always true, but today more so. So if you don't listen or watch the program, please consider checking out the link. Brenda made a strong case for highlighting Russ Feingold's censure but we had mentioned that Sunday and again this morning. With her permission, I've forwarded her e-mail on to Rebecca who will write about that item tonight at her site Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude. Points? If you're item didn't get highlighted above, we can highlight it another way is point one. Point two?
Marcia's right -- Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for March 13, 2006

- Kidnapped Peace Activist Tom Fox Found Dead in Iraq
- Michele Bachelet Becomes First Female Chilean President
- 80 Die in Violence on Sunday in Iraq
- Elite UK Soldier Refuses to Fight w/ U.S. in Iraq
- Sen. Feingold to Introduce Resolution to Censure Bush
- Charges Droppsed Against U.S. Troops in Jose Couso Killing
- State Department Expands Iranian Operations
- Report: Donald Rumsfeld Makes $5M on Stock of Tamiflu Company
- U. of Miami Janitors Enter Second Week on Strike
- Latino War Resisters Begin 241-Mile March For Peace

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

Tom Fox Remembered Around the World as Dedicated Activist Who Devoted His Life to Peace

The body of American peace activist Tom Fox has been found in Baghdad, over three months after he was kidnapped along with three other members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams. The whereabouts of the other three hostages remains unknown. We speak with one of his close friends and colleagues and hear from mourners around the world. [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: We received your email this weekend, that said, "We mourn and we carry on." Can you talk about Tom?
MICHELE NAAR-OBED: Sure, I met Tom the first time in 2004. And he was training to be a C.P.T. fulltime member. And part of the training involved doing some nonviolent actions, one of which was at the Navy ELF site in Wisconsin. So Tom and I were arrested together at that training, and he was an incredible presence, you know, very soft-spoken, but his spirit just exuded strength and centeredness, and he was committed to nonviolence. He was committed to trying to create a world in which violence would not dominate, as it does right now.

Slobodan Milosevic Found Dead in Hague Prison Cell: A Look at the Serbian Leader's War Crimes and the U.S. Role in the Balkans

Former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic was found dead Saturday in his prison cell near The Hague. He had been charged with genocide and crimes against humanity in a number of indictments spanning from the wars in Croatia and Bosnia to the fighting in Kosovo. We host a roundtable discussion on Milosevic with a Yugoslav dissident from Belgrade, and two journalists who covered the war in the Balkans: Jeremy Scahill and Chris Hedges. [includes rush transcript - partial]

For our first highlight, we'll note Jeremy Scahill's "Rest Easy, Bill Clinton" (CounterPunch) which Scahill references on Democracy Now! today:

Slobodan Milosevic is characterized in the obituaries as the "Butcher of the Balkans." If that is the story you want to read about, please go to almost any other media outlet and read it again and again. Some are now suggesting that death is Milosevic's final revenge, that he "ended up cheating history" by dying before judgment was passed. But the world has already passed judgment on Milosevic and what is being cheated by his death is history itself.
What the corporate media overwhelmingly ignores in Milosevic's death is what they ignored in his life as well--his intimate knowledge of US war crimes in Yugoslavia. While Milosevic was undoubtedly a war criminal who deserved to be tried for his crimes, he was also the only man in the unique position of being able to expose and detail the full extent of the US role in the bloody disintegration of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. In fact, that is precisely what he was fighting to do at his war crimes trial when he died.
Because of the rule of victors' justice in the ad hoc tribunal system (a poor and unfair substitute for a true international court), Milosevic's case would have been the only international trial to potentially expose the details of the illegal, US-led NATO bombing of Yugoslavia for 78 days in 1999. While the US-backed court consistently tried to limit Milosevic's right to speak, stripping him of his right to self-representation, Milosevic battled regularly to raise US war crimes. Sadly, with Milosevic will likely die the last hope the victims of these crimes in Yugoslavia had of getting their day (if it could even be called that) in court--a tragic and unjust reality to begin with--that speaks volumes about the twisted state of international justice.

We've got three more highlights and then the New York Times . . . caught in another story that blew up in their face. Before we get to that, along with suggesting the DN! headline on censure, Brenda also found an article on Russ Feingold's censure measure, David Lindorff's "Extra, Extra! Media Report on Feingold Censure" (CounterPunch):

The crocuses are up and the forsythia is starting to flower in my yard--a sure sign of spring. And on the corporate media front, suddenly we're reading about Sen. Russ Feingold's censure resolution against President Bush --a clear sign that the freezeout on talk of impeachment is starting to thaw, too.
Recall that when Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) filed a similar censure motion in the House last December--two actually, one against Bush and one against Vice President Cheney--it was virtually blacked out by the media, including the New York Times and Washington Post. Now, belatedly, the Times is mentioning the still languishing Conyers censure resolution--and his companion bill calling for a select committee to investigate possible impeachable crimes--in the article on Feingold's censure motion.
It's all an indication that impeachment--mocked as a "left-wing fantasy" as
recently as last fall--is becoming an increasingly mainstream notion.

And why not? After all, several polls over the last six months have disclosed that a majority of Americans favors impeachment to remove Bush from office on the basis of his serial assaults on the Constitution, most notably his lying to get the country into a war in Iraq, and his violation of the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Remember that this month is the third anniversary of the invasion (the illegal invasion). Tracey (Ruth's granddaughter) steers us to John Nichols' "Bringing the War Home" (The Nation):

The most powerful antiwar actions of the spring are not likely to occur in Washington. National antiwar groups will mount marches, lobbying days and other traditional initiatives. But it would take a monumental push to change the thinking of Republican majorities in the House and Senate, which are not yet ready to break with the Bush Administration on Iraq issues, or to convince an overly cautious Democratic opposition to press for withdrawal. And divisions over strategy and focus will continue to make it hard for a national antiwar movement that has struggled to communicate the depth and breadth of frustration with the war to do so in the brief period before the capital city becomes fully obsessed with this fall's Congressional elections.
But politics do not begin and end in Washington. So it is that the antiwar messages most likely to be heard and acted upon by Congressional Democrats and wavering Republicans trying to figure out how the war will play at the polls in November will come from their hometowns. It is there, at the grassroots, that a growing number of activists are organizing with an eye toward communicating to Congress that, as Wisconsinite Keith Schmitz says, "It's OK to oppose the war." Schmitz helped qualify an antiwar referendum for the ballot in Shorewood, a Milwaukee suburb that is one of thirty Wisconsin communities voting this spring on whether to leave Iraq. The referendum campaign, which organizers hope will serve as a model for similar efforts in more states, coincides with a renewed push by antiwar campaigners to get city councils to call for an end to the war. Coordinated by the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies, this "Cities for Peace" push has picked up steam in recent months, with seventy-six local governments, including those of Chicago, Philadelphia and Sacramento, urging, in the words of a resolution passed unanimously by the Baltimore City Council, "President Bush and the United States Congress to commence a humane, orderly, immediate and comprehensive withdrawal of United States military personnel and bases from Iraq."
Activists are also trying to communicate to members of Congress through home-state political parties, labor unions and places of worship. Progressive Democrats of America has successfully lobbied seven state Democratic parties to endorse withdrawal. US Labor Against the War and individual unions convinced last year's AFL-CIO convention to call for the "rapid" withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, and state federations, labor councils and local unions have stepped up efforts to deliver that message across the country. Almost three dozen mainstream Christian denominations signed a February letter that signaled a more aggressive antiwar line, stating, "We have failed to raise a prophetic voice loud enough and persistent enough to deter our leaders from this path of preemptive war." That move followed a call from the Union of Reform Judaism for an exit strategy and, perhaps most important, for congregations around the country to promote a deeper dialogue about the war and how to end it.

On the subject of media coverage of Iraq, Mary notes Danny Schechter's "Memo to the News Network" (Broadcasting & Cable) where he's addresing executives at TV networks, news executives:

I am sure bookers are already reaching out to the usual "on the one hand/on the other" suspects. There will be one "stay the course" soldier and one grieving mother. There will be one pundit to tell us about the progress we are making and one critic to question whether it was worth it. There will be one graphic to show the fall in the president's approval ratings and another to show the shift in public attitudes. Be sure to add one Iraqi to complain about the bloodshed and another to say, "We no longer have Saddam."
You can expect centrist reports telling us what we already know. You can bet they will exude "balance" and noncommittal commentary like "one thing is for sure," there is still light in the tunnel of democracy unless there is a civil war, caused entirely by the terrorists, of course, and Iraq splinters. Tragic, but not our fault.
Rest assured, White House spin-doctors have anticipated every contingency and framed “message points' rebutting every criticism.

And to compliment that, we'll again note:

"Take Action: Demand Better Iraq War Coverage" (David DeGraw,
United For Peace And Justice, and tens of thousands of Americans in calling on U.S. media outlets to do a better job of reporting on the war in Iraq and the anti-war movement protests against it.As the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq approaches, the nationwide Peace & Justice movement is, for the first time, focusing protests on the Pro-War media slant that has made the war possible.
With public opinion shifting from support for the war to calls for immediate withdrawal, the news media has an obligation to reflect on the role it has played in building a pro-war consensus with false and deceptive reporting. Many media organizations have published "mea-culpas" admitting "mistakes" and "flawed reporting," but the problem goes deeper and is ongoing.
The coverage remains one-sided and excludes anti-war voices from citizens and anti-war groups all over the world. We need real journalism, not jingoism.
It's Time to Make the US Media Accountable!Click on the link below to send an email to U.S. media outlets now!
Take Action: Demand Better Coverage

Which brings us to an e-mail from a visitor who characterizes himself as "angry" over this morning's "Other Items." Didn't, the e-mailer wonder, the Times do "the country a service" by "digging deep into the conflict of opinions of the military"? Well did the New York Times do that this morning? Is that what Michael R. Gordon and Bernard E. Trainor do in their article? "Dash to Baghdad Left Top U.S. Generals Divided" digs deep?

I don't think it does. It repeats a lot of whispers. Who's talking? We have no way of knowing. Do we care?

I honestly don't. I didn't read a thing in the overly long article that I wasn't already aware of. Some of it is claims, some of it is counter-claims. It was jotted down well. I'm not sure that it went beyond that. We've heard it before. Many times. What haven't we gotten? That's a question that concerns this community. Here's another: When is the New York Times going to follow up on their brief mea culpa with that examination of their coverage of the lead up to the war? When will that easy lip service slogan be turned into a promise kept? Or will it?

It's a question worth asking. The e-mailer identifies as a New York Times subscriber for "well over a decade." Assuming that's correct and that the e-mailer's memory is long, explain the front page story near the end of 2001. The article in question is Chris Heges' "A Nation Challenged: The School; Defectors Cite Iraqis Training For Terrorism."

Two defectors from Iraqi intelligence said yesterday that they had worked for several years at a secret Iraqi government camp that had trained Islamic terrorists in rotations of five or six months since 1995.

They said the training in the camp, south of Baghdad, was aimed at carrying out attacks against neighboring countries and possibly Europe and the United States.

The defectors, one of whom was a lieutenant general and once one of the most senior officers in the Iraqi intelligence service, the Mukhabarat, said they did not know if the Islamic militants being trained at the camp, known as Salman Pak, were linked to Osama bin Laden.

They also said they had no knowledge of specific attacks carried out by the militants. But they insisted that those being trained as recently as last year were Islamic radicals from across the Middle East. An interview of the two men was set up by an Iraqi group that seeks the overthrow of President Saddam Hussein.

The defectors said they knew of a highly guarded compound within the camp where Iraqi scientists, led by a German, produced biological agents.

''There is a lot we do not know,'' the former general, who spoke on condition that his name not be printed, admitted. ''We were forbidden to speak about our activities among each other, even off duty. But over the years you see and hear things. These Islamic radicals were a scruffy lot. They needed a lot of training, especially physical training. But from speaking with them it was clear they came from a variety of countries, including Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Algeria, Egypt and Morocco. We were training these people to attack installations important to the United States. The gulf war never ended for Saddam Hussein. He is at war with the United States. We were repeatedly told this.''

That ran on November 8th (and thanks to Dallas for help in locating it). Do you laugh now reading it? You should. "The former general"? Not. Not a former general. He lied to Hedges about who he was. He wasn't Jamal al-Ghurairy, the Iraqi lietenant general as he was identified to Hedges. He wasn't the man he pretended to be in the meeting set up by 60 Minutes Lowell Bergman and Ahmed Chalabi. (Set up for Hedges and Frontline's Chris Buchanan.)

He is Abu Zainab (alias name). And he was coached to deliver his lies.
Has the Times explored that? No.
You can pick up the current issue of Mother Jones for that. Jack Fairweather's "Heroes in Error: How a fake general, a pliant media, and a master manipulator helped lead the United States into war." The five page article (plus a one page illustration) does its job. When does the Times do their job?

They were tricked, they were played. (Hedges spoke with Fairweather for the article.)
It happens. (It did, however, happen repeatedly at the paper of record.) When you learn that it happened, you correct the record. Where's the Times' correction? And why is Mother Jones and not the New York Times breaking this story?

Hedges wrote of "two defectors." Mother Jones has revealed one to be a liar. (And located the real Ghurairy.) Who's the other one? I don't know that Hedges won't say. He may be willing to. But someone lied. The Times ran with it. From Fairweather's article (page 60, if you're using the print version):

Two days later the story that spun out on the front page of the New York Times was as shocking as it was convincing. Ghurairy claimed that as a senior intelligence official, he had witnessed foreign Arab fighters training to hijack airplanes at the Salman Pak military facility south of Baghdad. About 40 foreign nationals, Ghurairy said, were based there at any given time. "We were training these people to attack installations important to the United State. The Gul War never ended for Saddam Huseein. He is at war with the United States," the Times quoted Ghurairy as saying.

Why do New York Times' readers not hear from the New York Times about that? Weren't we supposed to? Isn't that the bond readership has with a paper. You pay your money for the subscription because you trust that mistakes will be corrected. This one? Dallas says there's no correction to the archived version of the story. Nor has the Times examined this or any other coverage despite the mea culpa on their Iraq coverage.

So today they want to offer military porn. I'm not interested. Are the grumbles accurate? Maybe. They're not shocking. There were grumbles before the invasion and grumbles early on the invasion. You heard it from the ex-generals the mainstream media put on TV. It's nothing new. Accurate or not, it's nothing new.

This was within the carefully drawn lines of the "debate" before and during the early days of the invasion. Can we move beyond that now? As most of the war cheerleaders given air time and print space have been revealed to be liars, dupes or worse, can we begin to move towards the voices that the mainstream silenced?
And if that's too difficult, do you think the Times can correct their own reporting? That was the lip service of the mea culpa. I call it "lip service" because it wasn't kept. I believe we're almost on the two year anniversary of the mea culpa (next month). (I'm remembering it running on May 26, 2004. If that's incorrect, we'll correct it later.) Two years of waiting for the promise to be kept? It was lip service. There was some statement about they would aggressively continue the pursuit of that coverage to correct the coverage. Where is such a pursuit?

This morning two reporters get weak in the knees, soft in the brain and moist in the front of their underpants over military whispers. Meanwhile, you have to go to Mother Jones to learn how the paper of record was duped.

Ruth left a message that on WBAI around 4:00 pm (EST) today. Talk Back! With Hugh Hamilton. Use the archives if this entry doesn't hit the site in time or if you don't read it in time. (WBAI archives.)

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