Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Democracy Now: Borzou Daragahi from Baghdad, Ken Silverstein on Goss, the CIA and more

Group Estimates 109 Iraqi Journalists Have Died During War
A new report by the Iraqi Journalists Union has determined that 109 Iraqi journalists have died over the past three years. 17 of the journalists were shot by U.S. troops. The report indicates far more journalists in Iraq have died than has been previously stated. The Committee to Protect Journalism has put the total number of journalists killed in Iraq at 70. Meanwhile, The Guardian newspaper reports two more Iraqi journalists were found dead near Baghdad on Monday. A day earlier witnesses reported seeing their vehicle being stopped by men wearing police uniforms who took them away.

Rove Indictment in Leak Case Remains A Possibility
This update on the CIA leak case -- a reporter from MSNBC has publicly said he is convinced Karl Rove will be indicted in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. The reporter, David Shuster, made the comment last night, a week after Rove made his fifth appearance before the grand jury investigating the outing of Plame, the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson. Shuster is the same reporter who revealed on MSNBC that Plame was working undercover investigating Iran’s nuclear program at the time of her outing. On Monday the Washington Post reported that Rove had advised his colleagues at the White House on the importance of defending prewar intelligence and countering Wilson's critique of the war.

Top GOP House Aide Pleads Guilty In Abramoff Scandal
In other news from Washington -- a former top Republican Congressional aide has pleaded guilty to conspiring with lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The aide, Neil Volz, served as chief of staff to Republican Congressman Bob Ney of Ohio. Volz admitted he accepted gifts and trips from Abramoff in exchange for political favors. According to the plea deal, Abramoff also bought off Congressman Ney who is identified in the papers only as Representative Number One. The court papers suggest Ney personally helped Abramoff by meeting with his Indian tribal clients and promising to introduce legislation to benefit their gambling operations.

The above three items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Rob, Dinah and Marcus. Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for May 9, 2006

- U.S. Dismisses Iranian Letter to Bush as Ploy
- CIA's Third Highest Official, Dusty Foggo, Resigns
- Top GOP House Aide Pleads Guilty In Abramoff Scandal
- Rove Indictment in Leak Case Remains A Possibility
- Group Estimates 109 Iraqi Journalists Have Died During War
- UN Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland: Situation in Darfur Is Deteriorating
- South African Presidential Candidate Cleared of Rape Charges

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

Chicago's Abu Ghraib: UN Committee Against Torture Hears Report on How Police Tortured Over 135 African-American Men Inside Chicago Jails

For nearly two decades a part of the city's jails known as Area 2 was the epicenter for what has been described as the systematic torture of dozens of African-American males by Chicago police officers. In total, more than 135 people say they were subjected to abuse including having guns forced into their mouths, bags places over their heads, and electric shocks inflicted to their genitals. Four men have been released from death row after government investigators concluded torture led to their wrongful convictions. [includes rush transcript]

LA Times Baghdad Bureau Chief: "[More People] Are Dying Violently Now Than At Any Time Since The U.S.-Led Invasion"

Borzou Daragahi reports from Baghdad on the latest political developments and the rising violence in Iraq. In the latest bloodshed out of Iraq, more than 30 people were killed in separate bombings and shootings Monday, including at least a dozen men apparently taken to Sunni neighborhoods of Baghdad and killed execution-style. [includes rush transcript]

Ken Silverstein on CIA Chief Porter Goss' Abrupt Resignation & The Duke Cunningham Bribery Scandal

Kyle "Dusty" Foggo -- Goss's top aide and the CIA's third highest official -- resigned Monday as the agency's Executive Director. Foggo has been under internal review for his links to the bribery scandal that sent Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham to jail.

Iraq snapshot.

Chaos and violence continue. And are you surprised?

Yesterday, a courthouse in Baghdad was bombed. Today, Judge Muhaimin Mahmoud Abbod "was gunned down . . . while he was driving his car." That took place in western Baghdad while elsewhere in Baghdad, three more Iraqis were killed by 'unknown gunmen' (a popular phrase in today's press reports). Amara saw the death of "a civilian and a political activist" from unknown assailants and Kirkuk was where an Iraqi soldier was shot dead and at least two others wounded. Reuters notes the deaths of four police officers in Ramadi.

Tal Afar was rocked by an explosion today. CBS and the Associated Press report that the explosion was another car bomb (though, in this case, a truck bomber) and at least 17 have died while at least 35 more are wounded. Baghdad was also the sight of bombings. Reuters reports a roadside bomb took the lives of two and wounded at least five more (including two police officers).

In what's become a day to day occurrence, corpses turned up across Iraq on Tuesday. Latifiya, as noted by Reuters, was the location for the discovery of three corpses (all had their hands tied, one wore a police uniform). CNN reports the discovery of ten corpses in Baghdad. Reuters reports that, near Suwayra, at least eleven corpses were found "dumped in the Tigris river" ("including the headless corpse of a 10-year-old boy"). On those corpses, CNN reports that at least three wore "Iraqi military uniforms" and had been beheaded. Reuters reports that of the eleven, at least nine were beheaded.

China's Xinhau reports the kidnapping of two Iraqi contractors in Tikrit and the attack on a taxi north of Tikrit that left at least one person dead and two more wounded.

As the chaos and violence become the norm, people continue to flee the country. The BBC reports that that 244 Palestinians, who were refused entry by Jordan, have been allowed to enter Syria.

The deployment of "roughly 3,500 [American] soldiers of the 2nd Brigade of the Army's 1st Infantry Division at their base in Schweinfurt, Germany" to Iraq remains on hold; however, the Pentagon (and Rumsfeld) stress that this just a delay not a drawdown.

Meanwhile, the laughable attempt on the part of someone (the US?) to create a sort of Tattler/Insurgency Exposed! on al Qaeda is met with skepticsm by experts who fail to see the document as a genuine one. Next up Rumsfeld, offers mash notes passed during al Qaeda study hall.

Finally, Scotland's Herald notes that Sarah Mulvihill, among the five British troops who died Saturday when the helicopter she and the other four RAFs were traveling in was brought down by a rocket, was "[t]he first British servicewoman to be killed in action for more than 20 years."

Highlights? Polly wants the BBC's "Oil up as Iran letter hopes fade" noted ("The title says it all.") And Domnick notes "UN torture expert calls for Shannon search of planes" (Irish Examiner):

The Irish Government must search US planes landing at Shannon Airport to establish whether they are carrying terrorist suspects, an United Nations expert on torture said tonight.
Amnesty International and other human rights groups claim the CIA is ferrying prisoners through the Mid-West hub en route to interrogation camps in other countries.
[. . .]

But UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak today said in Dublin: "I think there is so much evidence that flights have also been used for rendition purposes so I would say that for the future there should be preventive measures to search these planes to make sure that they are not used for rendition purposes."

Mia notes Norman Solomon's "The Misuses of 'Anti-Semitism'" (CounterPunch):

The extended controversy over a paper by two professors, "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," is prying the lid off a debate that has been bottled up for decades.
Routinely, the American news media have ignored or pilloried any strong criticism of Washington's massive support for Israel. But the paper and an article based on it by respected academics John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt, academic dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, first published March 23 in the London Review of Books, are catalysts for some healthy public discussion of key issues.
The first mainstream media reactions to the paper--often with the customary name-calling--were mostly efforts to shut down debate before it could begin. Early venues for vituperative attacks on the paper included the op-ed pages of the Los Angeles Times ("nutty"), the Boston Herald (headline: "Anti-Semitic Paranoia at Harvard") and The Washington Post (headline: "Yes, It's Anti-Semitic").
But other voices have emerged, on the airwaves and in print, to bypass the facile attacks and address crucial issues. If this keeps up, the uproar over what Mr. Mearsheimer and Mr. Walt had to say could invigorate public discourse about Washington's policies toward a country that consistently has received a bigger U.S. aid package for a longer period than any other nation.
In April, syndicated columnist Molly Ivins put her astute finger on a vital point. "In the United States, we do not have full-throated, full-throttle debate about Israel," she wrote. "In Israel, they have it as a matter of course, but the truth is that the accusation of anti-Semitism is far too often raised in this country against anyone who criticizes the government of Israel. ... I don't know that I've ever felt intimidated by the knee-jerk 'you're anti-Semitic' charge leveled at anyone who criticizes Israel, but I do know I have certainly heard it often enough to become tired of it. And I wonder if that doesn't produce the same result: giving up on the discussion."

And Cindy notes Stephen Singer's "Letter Claims Geronimo's Remains Stolen by Yale's Skull and Bones Society" (Associated Press via Common Dreams):

A Yale University historian has uncovered a 1918 letter that seems to lend validity to the lore that Yale University's ultra-secret Skull and Bones society swiped the skull of American Indian leader Geronimo.
The letter, written by one member of Skull and Bones to another, purports that the skull and some of the Indian leader's remains were spirited from his burial plot in Fort Sill, Okla., to a stone tomb in New Haven that serves as the club's headquarters.

According to Skull and Bones legend, members -- including President Bush's grandfather, Prescott Bush -- dug up Geronimo's grave when a group of Army volunteers from Yale were stationed at the fort during World War I. Geronimo died in 1909.
"The skull of the worthy Geronimo the Terrible, exhumed from its tomb at Fort Sill by your club... is now safe inside the (Tomb) together with his well worn femurs, bit & saddle horn," according to the letter, written by Winter Mead.

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