Thursday, May 25, 2006

NYT: When someone contradicts their own sworn testimony, the paper just yawns

In this morning's New York Times, Neil A. Lewis' "Court in Abuse Case Hears Testimony of General" covers the testimony of Geoffrey D. Miller (Major General) in the case of Santos A. Cardona. Caronda's being left to hang on the 'few bad apples' nonsense.

From the article:

He said he recommended that military dogs could be used to help with "custody and control" of detainees at the prison.

But he denies that was intended to be carried over to interrogations. He denies it and someone changes their previous testimony:

Col. Thomas M. Pappas, the top military intelligence officer at Abu Ghraib, testified in the earlier trial of Sergeant Smith that General Miller had recommended the use of dogs during interrogations. But on Wednesday in the current trial, he testified that General Miller did not make any such specific recommendations.

Cardona's already been smeared with abusing for "entertainment purposes" in other recent coverage. But does America buy that and will the court-martial? Are we going to continue to kid that the techniques just floated over, like seeds on the wind?, from Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib?

If so, for how long are we going to buy into that nonsense and see underlings punished for carrying out orders? From Democracy Now!'s "Col. Janis Karpinski, the Former Head of Abu Ghraib, Admits She Broke the Geneva Conventions But Says the Blame 'Goes All the Way to The Top:'"

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about General Miller. Who is he?
COL. JANIS KARPINSKI: General Miller was sent to visit Iraq by Secretary Rumsfeld and the Undersecretary Cambone. And they came -- General Miller came to visit from Guantanamo Bay. He was the commander of detention operations at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and he was sent to assist the military intelligence interrogators with enhancing their techniques. And he brought with him the techniques that were tested and in use at Guantanamo Bay. And he brought a team of about 20 people, 22 people with him to discuss all aspects of interrogation operations, and actually, he did an in-brief. I was invited to participate or to attend to listen to his in-brief, because he was working almost exclusively with the military intelligence people and the military intelligence interrogators while he was there.
But we owned the locations that he was going to visit, and he ultimately selected Abu Ghraib to be the focus of his efforts, and he told me that he was going to make it the interrogation center for Iraq. He used the term, he was going to 'Gitmo-ize' the operation and use the M.P.s to assist the interrogators to enhance interrogations and to obtain more actionable intelligence. I explained to him that the M.P.s were not trained in any kind of interrogation operations, and he told me that he wanted me to give him Abu Ghraib, because that's the location he selected.AMY GOODMAN: You're both generals?
COL. JANIS KARPINSKI: Yes. He was a two-star.
AMY GOODMAN: What about the dogs? Is that when the dogs were introduced?
COL. JANIS KARPINSKI: Shortly after his visit, he -- again, he was spending most of his time with the commander of the Military Intelligence Brigade, Colonel Pappas. In his in-brief, his introduction when he first arrived there with his team, he responded to one of the interrogators, the military interrogator's question, and he was listening to the comments, the criticisms that they were doing these interviews and they were not obtaining really valuable information, so he was there to assist them with different -- implementing different techniques to get more actionable intelligence.
And one of the interrogators just asked the question about what he would recommend that they could do immediately, because they thought that they were doing a pretty good job with identifying the people who may have additional value or more military intelligence value, and General Miller said -- his first observation was that they were not -- they were being too nice to them. They were not being aggressive enough. And he used the example at Guantanamo Bay that the prisoners there, when they're brought in, that they're handled by two military policemen. They're escorted everywhere they go -- belly chains, leg irons, hand irons -- and he said, "You have to treat them like dogs."

Papas has changed his story, changed what he previously testified to, and the article treats it as something to squeeze in right before the close. Perfectly in keeping with the New York Timid. It's news and not bury-it-at-the-bottom-of-the-story news. You lead with it. Someone's testified under oath and then recants the testimony and you're covering the case, you cover it as big news.

But you can't count on reality in the paper of no record more and more. For reality on Iraq, Jonah notes Aaron Glantz's "A New Iraqi Government? Don't Believe the Hype" (Common Dreams):

There's a lot of hype about Iraq's new "government."
In a speech to the National Restaurant Association in Chicago, George Bush called the new government a "turning point in the struggle between freedom and terror."
He called the government "something new" – a constitutional democracy in the heart of the Middle East.
One thing it probably won't lead to is an end to the occupation. In speeches both George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair refused to give a timeline for withdrawal of their armies from Iraq, meaning the more than 150,000 foreign troops in Iraq will probably not be coming home any time soon.

The dance Bully Boy's doing (and Blair as well) is very Nixonian. But we're not supposed to question it on those terms (in the mainstream media), we're supposed to believe that every remark Bully Boy manages to pass off as English is 'heartfelt,' 'noble' and 'true.' (For less flattering coverage in the paper of no record, go to John Burns today -- or any day -- covering the Saddam Hussein trial in a tone that one wishes Bully Boy would be on the receiving end of were he tried for war crimes but the paper would take a pass on that the same way they did on Nixon once he stepped down.)

Mia notes Patrick Cockburn's "Why the US May Have to Quit Iraq Sooner Than Planned" (CounterPunch):

The US and British armies in Iraq have both failed--though they could argue that the root of the failure is political rather than military. Three years after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein they control extraordinarily little territory in the country. Watching American forces in Baghdad since 2003 it always seemed to me that they floated above the Iraqi population like a film of oil on water.
Shia animosity towards the Americans and British forces is now beginning to look like that of the Sunni at the beginning of the guerrilla war. In Basra crowds spontaneously dance and cheer when a British helicopter is shot down just as the Sunni used to celebrate the destruction of every US Humvee in Baghdad (even then Tony Blair and George Bush claimed that the insurgents were just a small group of foreign fighters and Saddam Hussein loyalists).
The problem about the withdrawal is that it may be coming too late. The White House and Downing Street never took on board the sheer unpopularity of the occupation and the extent to which it tainted the Iraqi government, soldiers and police in the eyes of ordinary Iraqis. The Iraqi army and police are 230,000 strong and this figure is due to rise to 320,000 men by the end of next year. But in reality the allegiance of these forces is to the Sunni, Shia and Kurdish communities and not to the central government. The problem has always been loyalty rather than training.
The US and British armies in Iraq are becoming less and less relevant to political developments good or ill. Their presence is not acceptable to most Iraqi Arabs. They clearly cannot stop a civil war that has already started in the centre of the country. The main reason for keeping them there is to avoid a scuttle which would look like America's last days in Vietnam.

The reality you won't find in the New York Times. For a number of reasons but chief among them is they're not really interested in reporting news, they're more interested in 'shaping' opinion. And we've all seen where that's taken us.

This entry was lost and I am putting all the members highlights back in. However, there was a long section (now lost) about how war hawks are learning that traveling in packs might be good for media exposure but not necessarily good for votes. Instead of rushing to recreate it, we'll note Brandon's highlight and hope everyone's on the same page. From Tom Hayden's "Why Jane Harman Should Be Challenged" (The Huffington Post):

It must have been embarrassing for Rep. Jane Harman to read the front page of the [Los Angeles] Times this week that Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi "intends to force Harman to step down" from her slot on the House Intelligence Committee, partly because of "concern among Democrats that Harman is too moderate and inclined to accomodate the Republican agenda." [May 18]
If challenger Marcy Winograd has the money to mail that credible Times' summary to enough voters, she might even win a primary upset June 6.
As things stand, the challenge by Winograd and progressive Democrats already has forced Harman to change her rhetoric, finally calling the Bush Administration "lawless" on national television. In this case, the flip-flopping favors progressives, but it may not be enough for Harman.
It's no secret that Harman is the center of Democratic friction. She was one of a handful of Congressmembers invited into the secret White House briefings on what has mushroomed into a major scandal: the launch of domestic spying by intelligence agencies without warrants. The ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, Harman promised the White House to keep secret what she heard at the meetings.
She could have been a whistleblower, but chose not to be.
She could have refused the unconditional promise of secrecy, but chose not to.
She could have resigned the secret committee without comment, letting her silence do the talking, but chose not to.
Left to Harman, the spy scandal would still be a secret today. It was the New York Times, not Democratic leaders, who first broke the silence and secrecy.

(Actually it was James Risen and his book publisher that forced the breaking of the NSA story, but Hayden's short-handing.)

Remember to listen, watch or read Democracy Now! today (you'll need it months from now to figure out what the New York Times is downplaying). The e-mail address for this site is