Saturday, May 06, 2006

NYT plays Goldie Hawn and puts American in the Elizabeth Berkley role (Scott Shane & Mark Mazzetti)

Gen. Michael V. Hayden, who senior administration officials said Friday was the likely choice of President Bush to head the Central Intelligence Agency, has a stellar résumé for a spy and has long been admired at the White House and on Capitol Hill.
But General Hayden, the principal deputy director of national intelligence, would also face serious questions about the controversy over the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program, which he oversaw and has vigorously defended.
His Senate nomination hearing, if he is chosen to succeed Director Porter J. Goss, is likely to reignite debate over what civil libertarians say is the program's violation of Americans' privacy.
Mr. Bush has often reserved decisions about top-level appointments until just before they are announced, but senior administration officials said Friday that General Hayden was the clear leading candidate.

As Goldie Hawn warns Elizabeth Berkley in First Wives Club, "Phoebe, some advice. Be afraid, be very afraid." The above is from Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti's "Top C.I.A. Pick Has Credentials and Skeptics" in this morning's New York Times where they finally put into print what everyone's been whispering about for the last few weeks (Goss' impending departure).

Here's how Hayden's confirmation plays out (if he's confirmed), Bully Boy and underlings say, "Well if there were any problems with the NSA spying, Congress wouldn't have approved Hayden." Translation, Democrats better be prepared to fight. (My apologies to anyone who spit out their coffee. I should have written "HUMOR WARNING" before suggesting the Senate Dems might fight.)

How you liking the briefer, more USA Today-style version of the Times, by the way?

Tom Wright contributes "U.S. Defends Rights Record Before U.N. Panel in Geneva" and one might think the new "shorter! shorter! shorter!" mantra would lead to less mistakes. One might think so. Until the piece is read.

Here's an excerpt:

Mr. Bellinger also responded to questions raised in a committee report late last year by defending the United States' decision not to grant prisoners held in Guantánamo Bay, Afghanistan and Iraq rights under the Geneva Conventions.

The US didn't grant prisoners rights under the Geneva Conventions? Wright might need to do a little research. This is a point Janis Karpinski has made repeatedly (most recently in an interview with Dennis Bernstein on KPFA's Flashpoints Wednesday): the US did grant rights, to some, under Geneva. It granted as it pleased -- which isn't honoring the agreement.

Elsewhere Wright refers to extraordinary rendention with the qualifier "reported." Reported?
Wright writes: "These include Washington's reported policy of sending prisoners to countries with poor human rights records for questioning, C.I.A.-run prisons and the role of controversial interrogation techniques like waterboarding, in which prisoners are led to believe that they are going to drown."

Excuse me. "Reported policy of sending prisoners to countries with poor human rights records for questioning"?

Reported? As in won Dana Priest the Pulitzer for reporting? If so, Wright would be correct. However, that's not what he means. He's suggesting that it's merely "reported" and not "known." Did he miss Alberto Gonzales' remarks this week? Let's clue Wright in:

On Wednesday, US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said the United States had the right to send prisoners to other countries but it also had the legal obligation to ensure they were not despatched to places where they would be tortured.
"We all know renditions, in and of itself, is nothing extraordinary," he said.
"Renditions is an activity that is practiced by the United States and other countries.
"It is a practice that certainly has been exercised or used by this administration and previous US administrations.
"We understand that our legal obligation with respect to all renditions is that we will not transfer someone to another country where it is more likely than not that they will be tortured ... the United States strives to meet that obligation in every case."

Now let's not Jane Mayer being interviewed by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez Feb. 17, 2005 on Democracy Now!:

JANE MAYER: Yes. That is what the story focuses on, which is that there is a secret program that's run by the C.I.A. mostly (though the Justice Department and the Defense Department also do renditions), and it started -- [sneeze] excuse me -- in the mid 1990's, actually, in the Clinton administration, as a way of deporting or extraditing criminal suspects, usually terrorist suspects, back to countries that had some kind of legal claim on them. Most of them were sent back to Egypt, and most of them there were outstanding arrest warrants for; but what happened after 9/11 is the program, according to the people that I interviewed, spun basically in many ways out of control. It expanded exponentially, so that there are now thought to have been anywhere between 100 and many more such individuals who’ve been ‘renditioned,’ as they call it; and, instead of waiting until there are formal arrest warrants for these people and a -- kind of a legal case that's been carefully built up against them, it appears that some of these people have just been basically picked up on kind of untested suspicions, such as Maher Arar, against whom there turned out to be no case whatsoever. The Syrian government eventually released him after Canada pressured the Syrian government to let him go, and the Syrians said, 'Well, we never found anything wrong with him. He seems completely innocent.' So, it, of course, makes one wonder how many other people there might be who are completely innocent, who have been sent by the U.S. to countries where they’ve been interrogated, and in some instances it seems tortured.

Maher Arar was sent to Syria by the US government. It was extraordinary rendention (or, if Alberto Gonzales prefers, just "rendention"). And what did Albert Gonzales say in the previous excerpt:

"We understand that our legal obligation with respect to all renditions is that we will not transfer someone to another country where it is more likely than not that they will be tortured ... the United States strives to meet that obligation in every case."

We sent Arar to Syria. According to Gonzales, we wouldn't send Arar anywhere that it was likely he would be tortured. ("We will not transfer.")

So read the following:

The Government's human rights record remained poor, and the Government continued to commit numerous, serious abuses. Citizens did not have the right to change their government. The Government prevented any organized political opposition, and there have been few antigovernment manifestations. Continuing serious abuses included the use of torture in detention, which at times resulted in death; poor prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; prolonged detention without trial; fundamentally unfair trials in the security courts; and infringement on privacy rights.

If Wright's unfamiliar with it and thinking, "Damn left wing reporting!" he might want to take a breath. That's not reporting from any journalistic organization. That's from the official report from the US State Department on Syria ("Syria: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices").

Want to toss around "reported" again? That's just one instance, we could do this all day long time permitting.


Putting the "Timid" into New York Timid, ladies and gentlemen, Tom Wright. (Wright also fails to note John B. Bellinger III's role in selling the British government on the illegal war on Iraq.)

C.J. Chivers contributes "Not All See Video Mockery of Zarqawi as Good Strategy." No, it wasn't good strategy. Not for Iraq. It was good press strategy. The press took their eyes off Iraq to giggle and snort (the same way they did over the deck of cards that did not, though the lie maintained they did, go out to the troops). It was good p.r. for the Bully Boy to duck and cover behind a silly press making silly fools of themselves as they giggled over "outtakes" from a video. It didn't have a damn thing to do with what was happening in Iraq, but damned if the Times and the Associated Press and plenty of other organizations didn't run with it as though peace had broken out in Iraq. It was a nonstory, a nonstarter. The US has no influence over the Iraqis thoughts. Mocking anyone is a risk when you're the occupying power. It was a mistake and the Times should have addressed that yesterday instead of the nonsense about "outtakes."

Iraq's not a blockbuster that just came out on DVD. Save the foolish "outtakes" talk for the arts section. Chivers article is worth reading. But it's a damn shame on Friday (the last day many really pay attention to the news), the paper was front paging "outtakes" and Saturday they're trying to clean up. It was feel-good nonsense (did Bruckheimer shoot the video?) that was meant to detract from the very real issues in Iraq. And the Times and others were happy to play along.

Now the news cycle corrects itself. But many news consumers started their weekend believing in the "wonder" of the "outtakes" and they're going to miss the discussion on the liabilites of the "outtakes."

What's coming up here today? Ruth's doing her latest Ruth's Public Radio Report. She is addressing the issue members raised. That's the bulk of her report. It's completed and Dallas is hunting down tags. Ruth may add one more paragraph to it. Kat's going to post one of her reviews.

On that, Kat's plan was five reviews in five days. Two things. One, she realized that Ruth begins a vacation today (at least one week, possibly two and Ruth will be off the last weekend in May as well). With Ruth being off, Kat started rethinking her schedule. She also started adding additional CDs to her review list. She will be reviewing Free Design and Pink (as she's noted). But her reviews will be more than five and they won't run daily. During the week (Monday through Friday), when one goes up, it will do so in the evening/night time. She has four completed and the list has been increased to eight, I believe, with the remaining written in parts thus far. One will run next Saturday. Kat's intent is to blog this morning at her site, Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills) and explain what she's planning/aiming for (but she's taking another pass at her review that posts today -- so don't hold her to that). Her review that goes up today could go up as early as this morning but will be up before midnight. (If she decides to radically rewrite the one planned for today she may substitute the review of The Free Design for the one intended.)

Trina is posting today (and in fact working on it right now, I just got off the phone with her). Betty has a chapter that she's working on. So check Thomas Friedman is a Great Man later today. (And if it doesn't go up, blame me and not Betty. She wanted some input and the plan was for her to read it to me last night but due to a vareity of things, including that I'm traveling this weekend, that didn't happen. I think I can block out some time this evening.)

Martha passes on the planned guests for this weekends Radionation with Laura Flanders (from an e-mail heads up that you can sign up for at Flanders' site):

As the Senate prepares for a immigration debate, we look at the backlash some Republicans want to incite and to real solutions. Then, What makes a song dangerous? The newest protest music.
KYRSTEN SINEMA, Democratic Legislator from Arizona, on the latest border clashes in her state.
Dr. ROBERT PASTOR, Vice President of International Affairs at American University on how Europe managed illegal immigration.
JOHN NICHOLS, of The Nation.
FIDEL RODRIGUEZ, host of KPFK-FM’s Divine Forces Radio.
Did coverage the largest protests in US history help us better understand immigration problems and solutions? And what about those anti-war marches? Then, Jane Jacob's urban wisdom and what makes a great neighborhood?
ROBERTO LOVATO, Contributor to The Nation and New America Media.
SIMEON BANKOFF of NYC's Historic Districts Council.
REVEREND BILLY of the Church of Stop Shopping.
Plus a few surprises.

RadioNation with Laura Flanders can be heard over the traditional broadcast airwaves, on XM satellite radio and online -- airs from seven to ten p.m. Eastern time Saturday and Sunday nights.

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